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The Full - Forward Martin Kennedy

Chapter 22

Martin Kennedy of Castlesheela was regarded by many shrewd judges of hurling as the greatest full forward of all. In a playing career spanning almost thirty years he scored a phenomenal number of goals for club, county and province, and won every honour in the game. Those who saw him play agree that it was his versatility which made him the terror of opposing full backs and goal-keepers. One could never be certain what he would do next: he might palm the ball, double on it, strike it left or right, but invariably it seemed to result in a score. The great Limerick player Garrett Howard summed him up succinctly : " Kennedy never scored the same goal twice ". Although he struck his share of points during his long career, Martin was quintessentially a goal scorer, delighting in the rasping shot to the back of the net.
Martin Kennedy was born at Kilnafinch, Latteragh, in 1898 and began his hurling career as a goal-keeper with the Ileigh intermediate team in 1917. He ended his career between the Killadangan posts in 1946. In 1919 he traveled to the county final as the Toomevara sub-goalie: the regular full forward failed to field, Martin was drafted in, scored four goals, and a hurling legend was born.
Between 1919 and 1932 he won ten North and four County championship medals with the all conquering Toomevara "Greyhounds".
He made his inter county debut in 1919 and was a regular on the Tipperary team from 1922 until ill health interrupted his hurling career in 1936. John Maher of Thurles puts it graphically in 1935: " A Tipperary team without Martin Kennedy would be like a race horse without a jockey ". Martin won his first All-Ireland medal playing against Galway in 1925 and his second in 1930 when Tipperary defeated Kilkenny. In addition he gained six railway cup medals with Munster and was selected on the Irish team for the Tailteann Games of 1928. He toured the U.S.A. with Tipperary in 1926 and again in 1931, where his scoring exploits earned him the title " The Golden Boy of Hurling ".
Martin transferred to Killadangan in November 1932 when he came to live at Castlesheela. His presence at full forward galvanized a good team into one of the best and most exciting in North Tipperary. During the next fourteen seasons Killadangan appeared in nine North senior Finals, won three and by all accounts were unlucky not to take a couple more. Martin's proudest moment with Killadangan came in 1943 when he captained the team to victory over Roscrea in the North final. He appeared in his last final in 1945 when Killadangan went down by 5 - 06 to 1 - 04 to Roscrea.
After his retirement he was a Killadangan mentor for many years and a Tipperary selector from 1951 to 1969. Martin died in 1983 and was laid to rest in Monsea, in the heart of the parish to which he had brought such glory on the playing field. Many tributes were paid to him during his long and distinguished career, but perhaps the most eloquent of all was that in his own Ballycommon-Dromineer district he was known simply as - " The Hurler ".


"The Hurler"
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Martin Kennedys Medals
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