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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 21 November, 2018
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From Munster football breakthrough to All-Ireland senior hurling champion

It’s been a whirlwind year for Tipperary’s Seamus Kennedy.

Seamus Kennedy celebrating Sunday's win with his granny Mary Wall
Seamus Kennedy celebrating Sunday's win with his granny Mary Wall
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IN 2015 SEAMUS Kennedy was focused on Tipperary but not on hurling.

Gaelic football consumed his sporting schedule. He nailed down a spot with the Tipperary senior footballers until their campaign was halted by a Tyrone wall in the qualifiers in mid-July.

And then he was central to Clonmel Commercials autumn and winter journey, that culminated in his long delivery enabling Michael Quinlivan find the back of the net to secure a first ever Munster senior club football title for a Tipperary club.

By the time of that glory in the November rain in Mallow, Kennedy had opted to nail his colours to the hurling mast for 2016.

It hadn’t worked out for him with the Tipperary senior squad a couple years back but he was enlisted for duty by new manager Michael Ryan, as he assembled his squad last winter.

The problem for Kennedy was that his hopes to impress were compromised by Commercials commitments that ran up until mid-February.

And yet despite missing those early season auditions, the 23 year-old found himself on Sunday embracing life as an All-Ireland senior hurling champion, part of a Tipperary side that had left Kilkenny dazed with a blockbuster performance.

“It’s hard to put into words really,” remarked Kennedy.

“It’s been a surreal year in fairness, it probably won’t sink in for a long time but just to come out on the right side of one of those classic games is a super feeling.

“I definitely couldn’t have imagined this, missing the league because of Commercials doing so well. I suppose I got a chance, I was lucky.

“I kept the head down, I got a break and thankfully I’ve made the most of it. It’s really worthwhile thank God.”

Seamus Kennedy Seamus Kennedy (right) in action for Clonmel Commercials against Nemo Rangers last November. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Kennedy juggled football and hurling throughout his minor and U21 days, part of the Tipperary minor side that planted a flag in that 2011 final against Dublin.

He was one of several players that the Tipp football squad lost before the 2016 campaign started but hurling had always tugged at his heartstrings. He signed up for Michael Ryan’s squad but kept a close eye on the footballers wonderful summer run.

“I think any one that knows me around Clonmel, knows that hurling has always been my first game. I’ve always wanted to play hurling for Tipperary and this just a dream come true.

“I was as happy as anyone for the footballers. I was a Tipp fan before and I was a Tipp fan up supporting the footballers as well. I was absolutely thrilled for them.

“I think they understood my decision as well. They’re a super bunch of lads.”

His hurling teammates scaled the heights on Sunday but Kennedy was reluctant to start thinking of climbing the steps of the Hogan Stand in the closing stages, regardless of how appealing the scoreboard looked.

“As someone said I don’t think you’ve them beat until they’re back home. We got a goal at one stage and they came straight back down and got another one.

“You just can’t think that with Kilkenny. True champions that they are, they never give in. In fairness to Mick (Ryan) he’s been saying all year we’ve stuck to our beliefs and we stuck to our beliefs the whole way through that game.”

Walter Walsh with Seamus Kennedy Seamus Kennedy up against Walter Walsh last Sunday. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Kennedy had a ringside view of the havoc that the Tipperary forwards wreaked. The full-forward trio of John O’Dwyer, John McGrath and Seamus Callanan chalked up 2-21.

“If you’re hitting it into Bubbles, John McGrath, Callanan, if you give them any sort of a ball, they’re going to do damage. So that was our job, get it up to them as best we could and in fairness to the boys they did the business.

“Defence starts from the top and I think we put them under pressure all over the field. I think the turnovers the forwards did, just filtered all the way back through so we’re delighted with that.”

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Hope for all in hurling, Tipperary’s need to manage victory and no epitaphs for Kilkenny

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Fintan O'Toole

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