UCC and Tipperary footballer Jack Kennedy pictured at the Electric Ireland First Class Rivals launch.

UCC and Tipperary footballer Jack Kennedy pictured at the Electric Ireland First Class Rivals launch.

Jack Kennedy: 'The big goal is to stay in Division Two'

By Cian O'Connell

It has been a decade sprinkled with encouraging moments for Tipperary football at every level, but 2018 carries huge significance.

Liam Kearns has steered a promising Tipperary outfit back into Division Two of the Allianz League and Jack Kennedy is completely aware of the importance of the next four months.

Back in 2010 Tipperary reached the second tier of the competition and despite earning five points the Premier County were still relegated.

Maintaining their position in Division Two is crucial for the continued development of the game in Tipperary according to the immensely promising Kennedy.

“Yeah, that’s something we talked about in the meeting at the start of the year,” Kennedy admits. “We are really focused on having a very strong pre-season, and we are really working hard at the minute and we are looking forward to the 27th (v Cork) and being ready to go on the day. 

“We know there are some serious teams in Division Two, but we have enough confidence in ourselves not to fear anyone, either. So on our day we can beat anybody, if we are right mentally and physically. 

“So yeah, the big goal is to stay in Division Two. It’s important to make a good start and see what happens from there.”

The return of Steven O’Brien provides another source of optimism. “Yeah, massive boost,” Kennedy says. “I think that Colin (O’Riordan) and Stephen may have left the same year, and they were both midfield so they were a huge loss.

“And Peter Acheson leaving too was a big loss. Yeah, getting Stephen back is massive. Obviously he won an All-Ireland with the hurlers. He is a serious, serious player  and a serious athlete so looking forward to see how he goes. Hopefully he stays fit, and he’ll be a big plus for the year.”

Kennedy’s father, John, won All Ireland Senior Hurling medals with Tipperary in 1989 and 1991, but Gaelic Football was always Jack and older brother Colman’s preferred sport.

“I played hurling up to Under 21,” Kennedy remarks. Our club St Mary's have moved on senior now but I won't be playing that to be honest.

“Clonmel is football, it's the strongest and soccer as well would be pretty big. St Mary's doing well the last few years now has brought in hurling. I suppose my first love would always have been football. Really focused on that the last few years.

“When we go up to my Nan's house in Clonoulty where he grew up, it's all hurling there, I'd say they don't even know what a football is.

“My mam is from Holycross which would be another strong hurling area in Tipperary. I suppose it's surprising we're all so interested in football in my family.

“He likes to tell a few stories himself about the hurling. We go up and see a couple of his All-Ireland medals in his mam's house. It's nice to see them. He never really put too much pressure on us for hurling, he saw we were more interested in football or soccer and let us away with it.”

Tipperary football teams have been prompted by the Kennedy’s in recent years with the successful 2011 minor team Colman was involved with supplying inspiration for Jack.

“I was always obviously interested in football, but them being so successful really inspired the younger groups to get involved and be confident playing with Tipperary,” Kennedy says.

“From a weaker county compared to the big guns like Dublin and Kerry, it sparked a bit of belief. There's seriously talented footballers in the county. To go on to perform you can see the rewards with the senior team over the last few years. He was a big inspiration alright for me when I was 14 or 15.

He's over in America, was on a soccer scholarship and he finished up his MBA over the summer, so he's on a one year work visa.

“Seeing Tipperary do so well and obviously we're going fairly well with Commercials, he seems eager to get back playing at some stage, playing football. I'm not sure what the plan is though.” Tipperary footballing enthusiasts would be thrilled to see two Kennedy’s in the blue and gold.