TIPPERARY DUAL STAR Seamus Kennedy has committed to the county’s senior hurling panel for the 2016 campaign.
The Clonmel Commercials man has been in superb form for his club in their march to an AIB Munster final against Nemo Rangers on Sunday week, 29 November, but hurling is the player’s first love.
A 2011 All-Ireland minor football medallist, Kennedy plays hurling for the St Mary’s club in Clonmel and has been on the fringes of recent county senior panels.
But he will be handed the chance to impress by Tipp senior hurling boss Michael Ryan, who has also confirmed that the Premier County will not compete in next year’s Waterford Crystal Cup.
Kennedy made his senior football championship debut against Waterford in May but the 22-year-old, who has played intercounty hurling in the minor and U21 grades, has decided to switch codes for now.
Kennedy’s loss is a blow to incoming football supremo Liam Kearns and he could also lose the services of towering midfielder Steven O’Brien, who is mulling over an offer to link up with the hurlers.
O’Brien, from the Ballina club, is a former dual All-Ireland minor medallist and starred on the Tipp U21 football team that won this year’s Munster title before losing narrowly to Tyrone in the All-Ireland decider.
O’Brien was also a member of the Dublin City University panel that claimed Sigerson Cup glory in 2015.
If O’Brien decides to concentrate on the small ball, Kearns will have to plan for 2016 without one-fifth of the 2015 championship team – as Colin O’Riordan recently put pen to paper on a two-year international rookie contract with the Sydney Swans.
Ryan, meanwhile, has drafted 1995 All-Ireland U21 winning captain Brian Horgan into his backroom team.
Horgan, who worked as Kerry coach alongside newly-appointed Offaly manager Eamonn Kelly in 2014, will work with the Premier County as goalkeeping coach.
Horgan has been making quite a name for himself in coaching circles and he has confirmed that he will also continue in his role with Templederry Kenyons, where he is highly regarded.
This year, Horgan helped to guide Templederry to their very first North senior hurling championship final, where they lost out to Kildangan.
Horgan, from the Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams club, was also a selector alongside William Maher in 2012 when Tipperary won the All-Ireland minor hurling crown.
Ryan is currently finalising his panel ahead of a fitness test pencilled in for 28 November.
The manager also insisted that he did not speak to Tipperary’s retired stars about their plans for 2016, although he was aware of potential departures.
Conor O’Mahony, James Woodlock, Shane McGrath and Lar Corbett all pulled the curtain down on their Tipp careers in recent days.
Ryan told the Nenagh Guardian: “The less the guys heard from me, the better. They needed to make up their own minds in terms of their own motivation as they need to want to play for themselves, their family and their county, not just for me.”