Tadgh KennellyGoogle images

The Australian rules and Kerry Gaelic football star Tadgh Kennelly has said he has returned to Australia because Ireland is "on its knees" economically.

"The whole country is on its knees at the moment," Kennelly told The Australian newspaper yesterday.

"Ireland has been in a recession for a couple of years now.

"There are a lot of people leaving, a lot of people out of work and losing their houses.

"It's very hard I suppose to try and stick around in that environment with few prospects myself when I had the opportunity to come back and be a professional footballer again for the next two years at least. The (Irish) economy itself is reliant on everything outside of the country. Australia has its exports, we Irish don't.

"Our only major export is dairying, but the price of milk back to the farmer is nothing really.
"Luckily my brother (Noel) has a safe job for the moment as a sales rep for a soft drink company.

"That's the major thing about Ireland, it's so reliant on the rest of the world.

"But, he too, really doesn't know what's going to happen like to a lot of other people in the country."

Kennelly said the decision to return to Australia was just as difficult  as deciding to return home last January.

"It was probably even as tough as when I was 18, coming out here the first time, because now at 28, I'm no longer a spring chicken anymore," he said.

"There's very little chance of me ever going back playing (Gaelic) football again and that was very tough for me given the emotional ties I held of my late father Tim, and brother Noel in wanting to follow them and win a premiership with County Kerry.

"So for the first time in my life after I achieved that goal, I've decided what I wanted to do as a person and not worry about anyone else. I made my mind up that this is where I wanted to live, but my mum, Nuala, took a lot of convincing," Kennelly said.

"It was extremely tough on her. It will be four years this December that my dad passed away, and here I am at 28, and she's been left wondering if I'll ever be back.

"I'll never turn my back on Ireland, but initially my mum and I argued a lot.

"We really didn't talk a whole lot. It was only after we stopped shouting at each other that I sat down and stated my case.

"When I was here the first time, I always knew I was going to go home one day and have a crack at playing Gaelic football and try and win an All-Ireland championship like my dad and brother did," he said. "There were times when I was going to games here in Australia and I was thinking, 'God, I wish I was going to Croke Park and playing with Kerry'.

"I've now done that. This is my home now.

"While I have an Australian passport, I'll never give up my Irish one."