Tim Kennelly

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For the Australian baseball player, see Tim Kennelly (baseball).
Tim Kennelly
Personal information
Irish name Tadhg Mac an Fhailí
Sport Gaelic football
Position Centre-back
Born (1954-07-06)6 July 1954
Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland
Died 6 December 2005(2005-12-06) (aged 51)
Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland
Nickname Horse
Occupation Farmer and publican
Years Club
Listowel Emmets
Club titles
Kerry titles 2
Years County Apps (scores)
1975–1983 Kerry 31 (0–01)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 7
All-Irelands 5
All Stars 2
*Inter County team apps and scores correct as of 21:14, 9 August 2012.

Tim "Horse" Kennelly (6 July 1954 – 6 December 2005) was an Irish Gaelic footballer who played as a centre-back with the Kerry senior team. He joined the team in 1975 and was a regular member of the starting fifteen until 1983.[1]

Kennelly played on what is arguably the greatest team of all-time. He won five All-Ireland winners' medals, seven Munster winners' medals, two National League winners' medals and two All-Star awards. An All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions, Kennelly captained the team to the All-Ireland title in 1979.

At club level Kennelly was a two-time county club championship medalist with Listowel Emmets.


Tim Kennelly was born in Listowel, County Kerry in 1954. He grew up on the family farm in Coolaclarig, an area that had a great tradition for Gaelic football. As a young boy Kennelly showed great skill as a footballer and his father had a great influence on his subsequent inter-county career.

Kennelly was a publican by profession. His sons, Noel and Tadhg, also represented their native county in football. Noel won an All-Ireland medal with Kerry in 2000. Tadhg later played Australian rules football in the AFL with the Sydney Swans. In 2005 he became the first Irishman to win an AFL premiership winners’ medal. He returned to Ireland in 2009 and joined the Kerry senior football team and won an All Ireland Senior Medal and All Star.

Tim Kennelly, who suffered from a heart condition, died on 6 December 2005.

Playing career[edit]


Kennelly played his club football with his local team called Listowel Emmets. He won numerous under-age league and championship winners’ medals before making his way onto the club’s senior team. 1972 proved to be a very successful year for Kennelly and for his club. He captured a North Kerry senior championship winners’ medal while also winning a North Kerry league title. He finished off the year be claiming a county junior championship winners’ medal.

A second North Kerry championship title followed in 1976 while, two years later, in 1978 Kennelly added a second North Kerry league title to his collection. By this stage he was also lining out with divisional side Feale Rangers. An 0-8 to 0-3 defeat of Mid Kerry in 1978 gave Kennelly a coveted county senior championship winners’ medal. Two years later in 1980 Feale Rangers defeated Austin Stacks by three points, thus securing a second county senior championship title.

Minor & under-21[edit]

By the early 1970s Kennelly had joined the Kerry minor football team; however, he had no success in this grade as Cork dominated the provincial championship. He was quickly promoted to the county's under-21 team, winning a Munster title in this grade in 1973.[2] He later lined out in his first All-Ireland final at under-21 level. Mayo provided the opposition on that occasion; however, Kerry recorded a 2-13 to 0-13 victory. The win gave Kennelly a coveted under-21 All-Ireland winners' medal.[3]

In 1975 Kennelly captured a second Munster under-21 title following a nine-point trouncing of Waterford. Kennelly’s side later qualified for the All-Ireland final with Dublin providing the opposition. A 1-15 to 0-10 score line gave Kerry the victory and gave Kennelly a second All-Ireland winners' medal.[4]


In 1975 a new-look Kerry team was formed under the management of former player Mick O'Dwyer. It was the beginning of a glorious era for Kerry football and Kennelly played a key role in orchestrating much of the success for the team that would come to be regarded as the greatest of all-time. That year he won his first senior Munster title, dethroning Cork as provincial champions in the process.[5] Kennelly later lined out in his first senior All-Ireland final. Reigning champions Dublin provided the opposition and were installed as the red-hot favourites over the youngest Kerry team of all-time. On a rain-soaked day John Egan and substitute Ger O'Driscoll scored two goals and 'the Dubs' were ambushed by 2-12 to 0-11.[6] It was Ó Kennelly’s first All-Ireland winners' medal at senior level.

In 1976 Kennelly captured his second Munster title before later lining out in his second All-Ireland final. Once again it was Dublin who provided the opposition. Both sides were hoping for success, however, new 'Dub' Kevin Moran was causing havoc with the Kerry defence. Jimmy Keaveney converted a penalty to help Dublin to a 3-8 to 0-10 victory and defeat for Kennelly.[7]

1977 proved to be another frustrating year. The year began with Kennelly capturing a coveted National League medal on the field of play and a third consecutive Munster title following another win over Cork. Kerry later took on Dublin for the third consecutive year, however, this time it was in the All-Ireland semi-final. In one of the greatest games of football ever-played 'the Dubs' triumphed and Kennelly was still left waiting for a second All-Ireland medal.

In 1978 Kerry secured a fourth Munster winners' medal in-a-row, however, Kennelly missed the provincial decider. He later returned in time for ‘the Kingdom’s’ third All-Ireland final appearance in four years. Old rivals Dublin provided the opposition, however, the game turned into a rout. The game is chiefly remembered for Mikey Sheehy's sensational goal. The Kerry forward lobbed over the ball over the head of Paddy Cullen, who was caught off his line arguing with the referee. New full-forward Eoin Liston scored a hat-trick of goals. Pat Spillane played all over the field, including goalkeeper after Charlie Nelligan was sent off. At the full-time whistle Kerry were the winners by 5-11 to 0-9.[8]

In 1979 Kennelly, who was now captain of the side, won a fourth provincial title as Cork fell by ten points in the Munster final. He later went in search of a third All-Ireland medal as he lined out in a fourth championship decider. Dublin provided the opposition for the fifth consecutive occasion. Kerry were handicapped throughout the game. Ger Power did not start the game, while John O'Keeffe got injured and Páidí Ó Sé was sent off during the encounter. Two goals by Mikey Sheehy and a third by John Egan helped 'the Kingdom' to a 3-13 to 1-8 victory. It was Kennelly’s third All-Ireland winners' medal while he also had the honour of lifting the Sam Maguire Cup.[9]

Kerry's dominance continued in 1980. Another defeat of Cork in the provincial final gave Kennelly a fifth Munster winners' medal. Another All-Ireland final appearance beckoned, this time with Roscommon providing the opposition. The Connacht champions shocked Kerry and took a five-point lead inside the first twelve minutes. Mikey Sheehy popped up again to score the decisive goal, as Kerry went on to claim a 1-9 to 1-6 victory in a game that contained sixty-four frees.[10] The victory gave Kerry a third All-Ireland title in succession, while Kennelly added a fourth All-Ireland winners' medal to his ever-growing collection.

In 1981 Kennelly missed Kerry’s seventh consecutive Munster title, however, he later lined out in the All-Ireland final against Offaly. Kerry had an easy win with seven players combining for a great goal. He captured his fifth All-Ireland winners' medal that day as Kerry won by 1-12 to 0-8.[10]

In 1982 Kennelly won his second National League winners’ medal before Kerry secured an eighth consecutive Munster final victory over Cork. It was Kennelly’s sixth provincial title in all. The All-Ireland final pitted 'the Kingdom' against Offaly for the second year in-a-row. Kerry had the upper hand for much of the game and were leading by two points with two minutes left to be played. The game, however, was not over as Offaly substitute Séamus Darby, who had entered the game almost unnoticed, produced the most spectacular of finishes by scoring a late goal. Kerry failed to score again to level the match and Offaly went on to win their third All-Ireland title ever. Kerry's five-in-a-row dream was shattered.[11]

Kerry missed out on an historic nine-in-a-row in Munster in 1983, as Cork finally triumphed. 'The Kingdom' bounced back the following year; however, Kennelly was now on the periphery of the team while he also became a selector. He played no part on the field of play in Kerry’s Munster final and All-Ireland final triumphs. Kennelly retired from inter-county football around this time.


Kennelly also lined out with Munster in the inter-provincial football competition and enjoyed much success. He first lined out with his province in 1977 as Munster defeated Connacht in the final by 1-14 to 1-9. It was his first Railway Cup winners’ medal and the first of two-in-a-row for Kennelly and for Munster. After losing out in 1979 and 1980 Kennelly captured a third Railway Cup title in 1981. A one-point defeat of Connacht gave Kennelly a fourth Railway Cup winners’ medal in 1982[12]


  1. ^ "GAA mourns sudden loss of Tim Kennelly". Irish Independent. 7 December 2005. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Munster Under-21 Football Championship Winning Teams". Munster GAA. Retrieved 2009-04-07. [dead link]
  3. ^ Donegan, Des (2005). The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games. DBA Publications. p. 156. 
  4. ^ The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 156
  5. ^ "Munster Senior Football Championship Winning Teams". Munster GAA. Retrieved 2009-04-07. [dead link]
  6. ^ Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. p. 403. 
  7. ^ The GAA Book of Lists pp. 403-404
  8. ^ The GAA Book of Lists p. 404
  9. ^ The GAA Book of Lists pp. 404-405
  10. ^ a b The GAA Book of Lists p. 405
  11. ^ The GAA Book of Lists pp. 405-406
  12. ^ "Munster Railway Cup Football Teams". Munster GAA. Retrieved 2009-04-07. [dead link]
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Denis ‘Ogie’ Moran
Kerry Senior Football Captain
Succeeded by
Ger Power
Preceded by
Denis ‘Ogie’ Moran
All-Ireland Senior Football
winning captain

Succeeded by
Ger Power