Dual star Kennedy enjoying Commercials run
By Cian O'Connell
Seamus Kennedy's dual career has been sprinkled with medals and memories.
A couple of All Ireland SHC titles gleaned in Tipperary brought joy, while the success accumulated with Clonmel Commercials matters deeply too.
Since emerging on a particularly talented Tipperary minor football outfit, who earned national honours at Croke Park, Kennedy has remained a key figure for Commercials.
Four Tipperary Senior Championships have been claimed, while the AIB Munster Club title in 2015 was extremely satisfying.
"That's number one," Kennedy says. "That's not to devalue anything I've been lucky enough to win with Tipp or anything like that, but the couple of days in Clonmel after that...Clonmel had knocked on the door a couple of times in the '90s in Munster Club Finals and not gotten over the line.
"When we did, to see the reaction of all of those players that played, the likes of John McNamara in the club, it just blew us away, to be honest.
"Obviously it's the cliche, winning with the people you grew up, but that's what it is. The people you grew up with, your family and your friends.
"My Grandfather played with Commericals in the '60s on the three-in-a-row team and there are a few other lads like that. There's just that tradition and that thing of being involved with the club that's just that bit extra-special."
So now Charlie McGeever's charges are busy plotting and preparing for another provincial decider with Nemo Rangers. "I suppose going on the Miltown-Malbay game, that was a game we made very hard work of," Kennedy reflects.
"It was a really tough game and I suppose we have a good few areas we feel we can improve on from that and things we want to improve on.
"We've mainly looked at ourselves. Obviously we're going to give Nemo the respect that they deserve. "They have some unbelievable players, especially in the forward-line. We probably will have a look at them now when we get to training on Thursday and again coming into the weekend."
Still Kennedy stresses the need for Commercials to deliver a purposeful performance themselves.
"I suppose we're mainly trying to iron out the few bits we feel we can improve on," Kennedy adds. "We're under no illusion about the challenge that's facing us, but we do feel we've a very good group of players at the minute that have put in a huge effort all year. Especially the club players, they've really driven it this year.
"The likes of Jamie Peters, Danny Madigan, Kevin Harney, all those guys, have really driven the team on when we've been away with county. We just want to sort out our own few bits and then give Nemo the respect they deserve."
An August challenge defeat to Nemo helped to sharpen Clonmel minds according to Kennedy. "I left that day and I was going, 'Jesus, what the hell is going on here'," Kennedy recalls. "To be honest, we felt that we were going well at the time and Nemo gave us a bit of a licking that day.
"The game aside, something that really opened our eyes that day was Mark Cronin who won an All-Ireland Final on the Saturday and Paul Kerrigan who had played with Cork the day before were both there on the Monday Bank Holiday.
"Tipp had got knocked out that weekend as well and a few lads were blowing off a bit of steam which they're entitled to. But it kind of made us sit back a bit and go, 'Hold on a second here. This is why Nemo are so successful.
"These guys are well entitled to a weekend off, but, now, they're in Clonmel on the Bank Holiday Monday playing Clonmel Commericals in a challenge match.'
"The result wasn't pretty, but, yeah, it probably made us wake up, sit up, and take notice that this is the level that these guys are operating at that we need to get to."
Four years ago Commercials reached that standard and the following February were most unfortunate not to overcome Ballyboden St Enda's in a tight AIB All Ireland Club SFC Semi-Final.
It took Clonmel a while to cleanse that loss from the system. "I do think it took us a while to get back going properly," Kennedy admits. "We won a county fnial in 2017, didn't win it in '16, didn't win it in '18.
"I think we had a chat with ourselves at the start of the year this year and had a players' meeting and felt like that we were doing alright but not doing enough.
"The meeting at the start of the year this year and, as I said, the likes of Danny Madigan and Jamie Peters, Kevin Harney, Donal Lynch, all of those guys, the club guys, really grabbed the thing by the scruff of the neck and drove things on all year.
"Lads have put in a huge effort this year and thankfully it has reaped its rewards so far in that we're back in a Munster Club Final. But I do think it probably took us a bit of time to get over that.
"We're all a bit older now, a couple of years older, even the likes of Jack Kennedy was 18 playing in that Munster Final and the All-Ireland semi-final so he is a couple of years older.
We have Colman (Kennedy) back, things like that. That's a massive boost to the group."
Operating in both codes is something which Kennedy has always relished.
"I played as much football as hurling growing up," Kennedy states. "Obviously Clonmel is a football area. We had our last group game the Sunday after the All-Ireland Final. We were through already so I played that to get the legs moving again and get a bit of running into me.
"It's great. I love the two of them and having played so much hurling from November until August, it really freshened things up for me. Mentally, I was really looking forward to go back playing the football.
"We've a great group there at the minute so it was absolutely no bother at all. I'm absolutely loving it. Unfortunately we didn't get much of a run with St. Mary's, but the run with Commericals has been so enjoyable."