Though he may be gone back to Kerry to try and join his father and brother by winning an All Ireland medal with his beloved Kerry, Tadhg Kennelly is still very much in the mind of Paul Roos, manager of the Sydney Swans Aussies Rules team where Kennelly enjoyed huge success.
The 28-year-old Listowel native, who became the first Irishman to win a Grand Final when the Swans won the championship in 2008, turned his back on a lucrative pro career in the AFL to fulfill a childhood dream to try and win an All Ireland in the amateur code of Gaelic football.
After a rocky start, both Kerry and Kennelly have stormed their way back into contention this week and destroyed Dublin in the quarter final Monday to reassert themselves as serious contenders for the title.
If Kerry wins the All-Ireland this year and Kennelly wants to return to his Aussie Rules career then Roos would be more than open to the idea.
‘He’s one of my favorites of all time — people and players,’’ Roos told The Age newspaper. ‘‘If he rang me and said, ‘Roosy, can we have a chat about next year?’ absolutely I’d sit down and talk to him about next year if he wanted to come back.
‘‘At the moment we haven’t factored him in, so we haven’t got him in the plans. But if he rings up I wouldn’t say, ‘no, Tadhg, we don’t want you’, I would say, ‘yeah, Tadhg, what do you want to do? How’s your body feeling? Why don’t you fly back, or I’ll fly over and see you … let’s check you out’, so we certainly wouldn’t dismiss it.’’
Kennelly has admitted that he lost up to half a million dollars by switching codes, and the Swans could afford him next season as they are on target to be well below their salary cap.
Of course the only thing that will keep this dream alive is to win the Sam Maguire this September. To do that Kerry will first of all have to beat the winners of Meath and Mayo in the semi final, and then face the winners of bogey team Tyrone (who beat them in last’s year’s final) and Cork (who beat them in this year’s Munster final) in the decider.