Tadhg Kennelly

Sydney Swans Giveaway: Win a signed guernsey, match tickets

Win a signed Sydney Swans guernsey signed by Irish stars Tadhg Kennelly and Colin O’Riordan.

The Irish Echo, in association with the Sydney Swans, gives you the chance to win a special Irish gift pack including a signed guernsey and cap plus four tickets to the Swans final game of the season against St Kilda on Saturday, August 24.

Tadhg Kennelly is a club legend after becoming the first Irishman to win an AFL premiership with ‘the Bloods’ in 2005. Now assistant coach at the club, Kennelly also won an All Ireland Senior Football winners medal with his native county in 2009. He was recently included in our Top 100 Irish Australians of all time.

Colin O’Riordan has cemented his spot in the Swans first XVIII as a dashing defender this season. He recently signed a contract extension with the club which will keep him in Sydney until at least 2021.

To be in with a chance, just complete the form below and answer our two questions. Winners will be notified by phone on Tuesday next, August 20.

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Kennelly defends AFL recruitment of young Irish stars

Sydney Swans coach Tadhg Kennelly says he understands the frustration of some GAA fans who see talented young players abandon Ireland for a crack at Aussie Rules.

But the popular Kerryman defends the pathway as a great opportunity to play professional sport.

Two years ago Kennelly was criticised in the Irish media by his former Kerry team-mate Tomás Ó Sé for his part in taking top prospects away from GAA in his role then as AFL Talent Coordinator.

“I see both sides of the argument,” the now 38-year-old said in a revealing interview with the Irish Echo.

“I understand if I was a young man at home in Kerry and I’m watching Mark O’Connor go and play for Geelong.

“I wouldn’t be happy. It would be tough to watch because that’s what you bleed at home, you bleed Kerry football and you don’t want to see your best talent going.

“But I also see the other side of the argument. He’s a young man getting an opportunity to play professional football, getting to challenge himself in a game he knows nothing about and an opportunity to put it up against people in a game that you don’t know. I understand both sides of the argument. Which one’s right? Who knows?”

Kennelly is in a unique position of having reached the pinnacle of both games: in 2005 with the Sydney Swans and in 2009 with Kerry.

“I’ve been able to live both of them, going back to play football at home and getting to play as a professional here with the Swans,” he said.

“It’s a tough one and I see both sides of the argument. But I also understand there’s been close to 70 Irish players that have come out here. There’s only a handful of us who have played over 150 games of AFL football, the majority go back.

“That’s the first thing I say to players or anyone who talks to me about coming out here. It’s f**king hard and it’s a hard thing to do because you’re playing a game you knew nothing about, you haven’t been able to grow up with it, you don’t understand it and it’s tough. The majority of players go back and they go back better Gaelic footballers because they have lived in an environment of being a professional for a couple of years.”

In 2009, Tadhg Kennelly became the first irishman to win both an AFL Premiership and an All Ireland Championship.

In 2009, Tadhg Kennelly became the first irishman to win both an AFL Premiership and an All Ireland Championship.

Kennelly is also a veteran of International Rules, having played in six series. While he is a fan of the concept, he is not confident that the hybrid code can find a way forward.

“It’s difficult, it’s hard and I understand the demands on both codes as far as the GAA and AFL are concerned,” he said.

“There’s a lot going on, a lot on their plates. It’s hard to get momentum up because it’s a year, two years between games and it’s hard to get the momentum going.

“I’m a huge fan of it, it’s an opporunity for you to represent your country which both codes don’t get and you talk to any player who’s played in it, they absolutely love the experience and love playing for their country. I hope it does continue because it’s an opportunity to represent your country.”

Having spent his entire AFL career at the Sydney Swans, Kennelly returned to Sydney Cricket Ground two years ago and is now defensive coach.

He is also a member of the club’s Hall Of Fame having played 197 games for the ‘bloods’ becoming the first Irishman to win an AFL premiership in 2005.

In the extensive interview, Kennelly also revealed that if Kerry had not won the 2009 Championship, he may have stayed on in Ireland.

Global Irish fun run gets into stride again

Tadhg Kennelly and former Sydney Swans team-mate Michael O'Loughlin at the 2017 Sydney 5k run.

Tadhg Kennelly and former Sydney Swans team-mate Michael O'Loughlin at the 2017 Sydney 5k run.

Seventeen cities, eight countries, one global nation.

The Ireland Fund’s Global 5k run will get into stride again on September 22. 

Events will take place in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne to raise money for causes in Australia and Ireland. 

The global patron for the run is Irish Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan, who will take to the field in Melbourne this year. The Sydney run will be led by former Sydney Swans star Tadhg Kennelly. 

“It’s hard to believe we’re in the fifth year of this event,” said John Gallagher, chairman of the Ireland Fund Australia Sydney Young Leaders.

“It’s grown every year but we are really hopeful that this is the year that the run becomes a really established, fun event for runners, walkers, families, pets, anyone who likes, on the Irish Australian community calendar in all three cities. 

“We’re thrilled to have the support again of both Sonia O’Sullivan and Tadhg Kennelly, helping us to raise much-needed funds for worthy causes in Ireland and Australia.”

Starting in Brisbane at 7am, with the baton handed to Sydney and then over to Melbourne, the young leaders will run 5kms in their respective cities before passing the virtual baton. 

The Global 5k will conclude when the last young leader crosses the finish line in San Francisco. 

“It’s a really excellent event,”
Kennelly said. “I brought the family along last year; tried out my knees again for the first time in a few years. 

“And it’s a very Irish take on a fitness event – we all get the exercise in first, and the sausages and goodies afterwards! I enjoyed the chat and the craic and meeting everyone last year.” 

People can support the event by signing up to run, by volunteering on the day, by sponsoring a runner or making a donation. 

All runners get an event T-shirt, plus a delicious breakfast BBQ after the race. Sponsorship packages are also available. 

Global 5k runs take place in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, New York, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Toronto, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Belfast, Dublin and London.

Hybrid hope after 'best series ever'

Michael Murphy goes for goal during the second International rules test in Perth.  Picture: Sportsfile

Michael Murphy goes for goal during the second International rules test in Perth.  Picture: Sportsfile

JOE Kernan’s Irish team came a long way to taste bitter defeat, coming out on the wrong side of the latest International Rules series. Ireland lost the series 2-0 and by a margin of 116-103.

However, a late tackle by Joel Selwood and some cheap shots by the hosts would cause tempers to boil over and become the talking points of the series. However Tadhg Kennelly, who played AFL for Sydney Swans and represented Ireland in International Rules, said the series was the best yet.

“I think it was probably the best series ever played to tell you the truth,” Kennelly told the Irish Echo. “I’ve been involved in six series as a player, four series as a coach. As far as a competitive game and spectacle and the quality of the game itself and the way it was played by both teams, I think it was the best one.

“You need the best players from both codes to be playing. There were some missing from both but not a huge amount really. I think the concept has grown a lot of legs after that series.” Asked if the Dublin footballers were missed from the spectacle, Tadhg says: “Yes and no, it’s a bit difficult. People have got to understand they have been on the road for three years in a row really and right up until the end of September, it can take its toll on you.

“A lot of them played in the past also, it must be said. “It is not as if they haven’t played and represented their country. It just happened that the majority of them have been still involved in their club football.

“It’s very difficult being a county footballer when you’re being pulled and dragged, something has to give. It’s just a coincidence and the players have said that. (James) McCarthy said, we wanted to play, we have played in the past but it has all happened at once. “If you look at the Australian team though, they had no representation from the Richmond team that won the flag.” Michael Murphy and Conor McManus starred for Ireland and the Irish would have struggled to even keep in touch without their scores.

The Australian International Rules squad celebrate their success with the Cormac McAnallen Trophy in Perth.

The Australian International Rules squad celebrate their success with the Cormac McAnallen Trophy in Perth.

The first test at Adelaide saw Ireland starting well, leading 15-14 after the first 20 minutes. Their lead was stretched to 10 in the second quarter when Michael Murphy scored the first goal of the game. Michael Murphy and Conor McManus were Ireland’s best forwards, taking the lion’s share of the Irish scores. Pearce Hanley of the Gold Coast suffered a hand injury, ending his series and further depleting the Irish squad. Australia’s devastating pairing of Ben Brown and Nat Fyfe made sure they went in at the half-time hooter one point to the good, 28-27.

The heat took its toll on the Irish, who wilted in the second half, losing the third quarter 22-8 but they would do well to fight back, taking the final quarter 18-13, making it 63-53 in favour of the home team going into the second Test.

Ireland threatened to comeback in the second test in Perth with early Gary Brennan and Chris Barrett goals putting them in a commanding position, but Australia would produce a strong finish to claim the Cormac McAnallen trophy.

Ireland led 30-17 at the break when a black card for Joel Selwood saw tempers boil over and a melee erupted after the foul on Chris Barrett. Conor McManus kept Ireland in it with his fine shooting but Australia took an overall lead of seven points going into the final quarter and would finish stronger to take the match 53-50 and the series.

On the Selwood tackle that caused so much controversy, Kennelly said: “It’s just a different understanding. I think it’s certainly a free-kick, penalty and that’s in any of the two codes but players when they handpass in AFL, they brace themselves for the contact coming whereas in Gaelic football, we don’t do that as much.

“I can obviously see the uproar from Ireland but I just think there’s a grey area that’s always going to be there because of the interpretation of rules from countries that are so far away and concepts of the game are very different.

“That’s where we have be lenient on both sides of things, on both sets of rules and incidents,” Kennelly said

Kerryman comes home to roost with the Swans

Migratory Swan Returns: Tadhg Kennelly (right) with fellow Sydney Swans coaches (from Left) Steve Johnson and Dean Cox.

Migratory Swan Returns: Tadhg Kennelly (right) with fellow Sydney Swans coaches (from Left) Steve Johnson and Dean Cox.

TADHG Kennelly has returned as development coach for his beloved Sydney Swans, the team with which he won a Premiership in 2005.

“It’s great to be back. It’s five years I’ve been away from the club,” Kennelly told Irish Echo.

“It’s a bit familiar, yet foreign also. “I’ve had five years away from the club and different experiences in my own life. Coming back in as a coach and not a player is obviously a bit different but the very fabric of the football club hasn’t changed as far as how we approach the game and how strong of a cultural club it is.

“It’s different yet similar.” Kennelly is the only sportsman to have won both an AFL Premiership and All-Ireland football championship. He played his entire AFL career with Sydney Swans, only taking a break from his decade-long career to achieve his other ambition with Kerry.

The son of All-Ireland winner Tim Kennelly, a young Tadhg shone at Gaelic football as well as soccer having a brief stint at Blackburn Rovers’ youth team. In 1999, he joined Sydney Swans as a Rookie, making his senior debut in 2001. He was the first Irishman to win an AFL Premiership in 2005, playing all 26 games in a victorious campaign. He was also a losing finalist in 2006 when Swans lost by a single point.

Kennelly had expressed his desire to return home and win an All-Ireland with Kerry, something he achieved in 2009, playing in the Kingdom’s triumphant campaign, beating Cork in the final. 

Tadhg Kennelly

Tadhg Kennelly

Kennelly would then return to Swans for a further two years, playing his final game in September 2011, then working in development roles including as the AFL’s International Talent Co-ordinator which saw him bring talent from Ireland.

“It was great while I was doing it, giving opportunities to young men all over the world: Ireland, US, New Zealand. Now I’m all about the Sydney Swans and trying to help the young fellas step up and make it into senior football.

“I’ll keep an eye on it from a distance because that’s who I am. I’m an international footballer at the end of the day. I came from the other side of the world. Of course I’m always going to have a soft spot for that.

” Colin O’Riordan of Tipperary is one Irish player in the Sydney ranks that Tadhg will be working with and helping to reach that next step. “I know if I was a third-year footballer and I had someone at the club from very much the same background as myself as a coach, I would be leaning on them.

“The minute he came out here, I was all about him and helping him to settle in. Now obviously I’m able to work with him day to day and help his football from a technical point of view.

“We’ll be trying to get him up to speed as quick as we can to get him into senior selection,” he added.

Kennelly, who has just become a father for the third time, was one of the first AFL players to represent Ireland in International Rules, playing in six Tests.