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Clare Hurler Tony Kelly joined All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Sponsor Littlewoods Ireland to launch their new ‘Style Meets Substance’ campaign. Returning for the fourth year running as a top-tier sponsor, Littlewoods Ireland’s ‘Style Meets Substance’ campaign is a celebration of hurling people, their individuality, their love for the game and the joy of Championship. 
Clare Hurler Tony Kelly joined All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Sponsor Littlewoods Ireland to launch their new ‘Style Meets Substance’ campaign. Returning for the fourth year running as a top-tier sponsor, Littlewoods Ireland’s ‘Style Meets Substance’ campaign is a celebration of hurling people, their individuality, their love for the game and the joy of Championship. 

Tony Kelly embracing new ways


By Cian O'Connell

Significant changes have occurred in the world since March, but Tony Kelly acknowledges that different methods are being found to adapt.

A star hurler with Ballyea and Clare, Kelly's day job is a post primary school teacher in St Flannan's, Ennis.

Remote learning took place for a spell, but since the end of August students and staff have embraced new ways.

"It’s a lot different inside with the hand sanitizing, the mask-wearing, different systems around the school, one-way systems and that," Kelly says. 

Having some sort of 'normality', though, has pleased Kelly. "I’ve enjoyed it," Kelly says. 

"I prefer to be in school, I like working in school. Obviously it doesn’t come without risk. Our school have been absolutely excellent in terms of the protocols they’ve developed over the summer, working extremely hard throughout the summer. Then we came back in the end of August/start of September and it’s been excellent so far. 

"But it is a different world. I’d be of the opinion that students have to get back to school, have to get some sort of normality back in their lives.

Tony Kelly celebrates with the Liam MacCarthy Cup back in 2013.
Tony Kelly celebrates with the Liam MacCarthy Cup back in 2013.

"Everything comes with an element of risk. Our school have been fortunate enough with little or no cases of COVID so far and hopefully it remains that way.

"It’s all about everyone playing their little bit in school, both students and teachers, and in fairness, over the last few months, every student and teacher has bought into it and it seems to be very effective so far."

Hurling has provided a release, an outlet away from the worries of everyday life. Those few hours spent training or playing matter. "Definitely, it is mighty, anybody that is playing it, you just love the game, you love going out training, you love getting out playing," Kelly replies.

"You love the competitive and physical aspect of it and it has just been a lease of life. The club when it came back in the summer was probably even more of a release because it was such a lockdown for a sustained period of time. I suppose from that then it is strange in one sense.

"You are coming out of the club trying to build yourself up more for an inter-county season. The demands on the inter-county are probably up another level or two from the club.

"It is strange in that sense, trying to get into a mini pre-season. Everyone is eager to go within our own camp, we are just happy we can just train and play matches at the highest level.

"From my own point of view it would have been a shame to have missed out on a year, to write off a year. We are just happy that we are fortunate enough that we have a chance to play."

Clare talisman Tony Kelly during an Allianz Hurling League encounter against Laois in February.
Clare talisman Tony Kelly during an Allianz Hurling League encounter against Laois in February.

Injuries have disturbed Clare's preparations for the upcoming Munster Championship and Allianz Hurling League Final against Limerick.

Kelly, though, stresses the value and leadership supplied by John Conlon.

"Yeah, John Conlon obviously got hurt, a training injury he sustained a bad knee injury, doing the cruciate," Kelly says.

"Again he is in and about with us, with the lockdown and whatever I think he is six months since his operation. He is back doing a good bit of training, it is probably coming a bit too soon for him. You see him every night at training, he is a good lad to have around, he is our captain. So even just to have him at training even if he can't partake in every drill, he is at every session encouraging lads on.

"We have a younger group of lads in from the lockdown, a few of the lads that played 20s last night, a few new lads in, so it is good to have the likes of John with his experience, that he gives them at training.

"Colm Galvin was injured early on in the year, he couldn't play in the League. He went back playing with the club and picked up another two or three injuries.

"I think he is just going to take a break now until January or February, whenever next season kicks off. We are looking forward to having them two back, they'd be a great two additions to have this year, but that is the nature of injuries, and the nature of the sport."

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