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Dublin: 3°C Saturday 26 September 2020

O'Connor launches defence of Tadhg Kennelly's role in bringing GAA talent to Australia

‘It bothers me that a man can give young people a golden ticket in life only to be abused for it. That’s not right.’

Mark O'Connor and Tadgh Kennelly.
Mark O'Connor and Tadgh Kennelly.
Image: Inpho

MARK O’CONNOR, THE former Kerry minor captain who last week made his AFL debut, has defended Tadhg Kennelly’s role in enticing some of the top GAA talent to Australia amid criticism from former team-mate Tomás Ó Sé.

O’Connor’s remarkable rise in his first season playing Aussie Rules was capped last weekend as he made his bow for Geelong Cats but his development Down Under prompted O’Sé to hit out at Kennelly and AFL clubs.

In his column for the Irish Independent, O’Sé said he had nothing against Kennelly personally but ‘hated what he’s doing’ in his role as the AFL’s international talent co-ordinator.

“Now nobody can blame a young player trying his luck in a professional sport,” O’Sé wrote.

“In some respects, maybe we’d all have loved to have been able to live the life of full-time athletes. But there are people in Dingle heartbroken that Mark O’Connor is gone.

“Let’s make no bones about this. Right now, a lot of people in Kerry are cursing Tadhg. Cursing one of our own. That can’t be right.

“I’d say any focus on this story must be bothering him. If I met him tomorrow, I’d say straight up, “Tadhg, I’ve nothing against you personally. But I hate what you’re doing.”

“Because people in Kerry are sick of this. A lot of Tadhg’s former team-mates are sick of this too, they just don’t feel comfortable saying it. But I think [David] Clifford leaving would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Two-time All-Ireland minor winner O’Connor took to Twitter this morning to staunchly defend Kennelly and pay tribute to the man who has given him and other young men the chance to follow their dreams abroad.

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Ryan Bailey

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