Aussie Rules legend Tadhg Kennelly has announced his retirement at the end of the season – fuelling speculation he may return to a Kerry football jersey.
All-Ireland winner Kennelly, still just 30, has told his team-mates that a long standing knee injury has forced him to quit the Aussie game.
But Kerry fans, buoyed by his enthusiasm when he returned home to win the Sam Maguire with his native county in 2009, will hope he can be persuaded to make another GAA comeback.
The first Irishman to win an Australia Rules Premiership medal and the All-Ireland, Kennelly will becheering from afar when Kerry play Dublin in this year’s Sam Maguire decider in three weeks time.
He intends to see out the season with the Swans then opt for media work in Australia – unless Jack O’Connor can get him home to Listowel for one more crack at gaelic football.
“I’ve always been an upbeat person and had naturally got myself up, but the injury with my knee had been physically difficult to deal with,” said Kennelly as he announced his imminent retirement.
“I’ve had to work hard to get up for games on the weekend. But the decision to retire is a big weight off my shoulders.
“There was some anguish and mental stress I’ve been putting myself under and worrying about it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I wish I’d made the decision earlier. It would’ve helped my performance.
“It was extremely emotional, telling my teammates. It’s a very hard thing to do. You don’t want to give it away, you just want to play football with your mates.
“It was extremely difficult and something I don’t want to do again. The boys have been great and that’s what I’m going to miss most.
“It’s been a difficult decision. The last couple of weeks I’ve been battling with myself to figure out whether to play on or not.
“But I’ve decided I’m in a good place at the moment and I’m quite happy to go out at the end of the season. I’m looking forward to playing Brisbane on the weekend and going deep into September.”
Kennelly arrived in Sydney as a 17-year-old rookie in 1999 and made his first team debut two years later.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey and an unbelievable ride and something I would do again,” he added.
“I came out as a 17-year-old knowing nothing about the game, 15,000 kilometers away from your family. It was hard, but the more you put into it the more you get out of it.”