Kevin Fennelly

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Kevin Fennelly
Personal information
Irish name Caoimhín Ó Fionnalaigh
Sport Hurling
Position Goalkeeper
Born 1955 (age 62–63)
Piltown, County Kilkenny
Years Club
Ballyhale Shamrocks
Club titles
Kilkenny titles 9
Leinster titles 4
All-Ireland Titles 3
Years County
1978-1990 Kilkenny
Inter-county titles
Leinster titles 4
All-Irelands 3
All Stars 0

Kevin Fennelly (born 1955 in Piltown, County Kilkenny) is a retired Irish hurling manager and former player. He played hurling with his local club Ballyhale Shamrocks and with the Kilkenny senior inter-county team from the late 1970s until the late 1980s. Fennelly later served as Kilkenny Senior hurling manager for the 1998 season, and Dublin manager for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. He currently lives in Gowran and writes a hurling column in the Sunday World newspaper.

Early life[edit]

Kevin Fennelly was born in Piltown, County Kilkenny in 1955. At the age of six his family moved to Ballyhale where his father had bought a farm. From an early age Fennelly and his six brothers – Michael, Ger, Brendan, Liam, Seán and Dermot – all took a great interest in the game of hurling. It was at Ballyhale national school that they first played the game and, in time, all the Fennelly boys would go on to play for club and county.

He is an uncle of the famous Kilkenny hurler, Henry Shefflin.

Playing career[edit]


In his youth Fennelly quickly became a member of the newly formed Ballyhale Shamrocks club, a club which is father helped to found. He had much success with the club, beginning by winning several minor and under-21 county titles with the club. In 1978 Fennelly was a key member of the senior team when Ballyhale won their first county title. This was later converted into a Leinster club title, however, Ballyhale were narrowly beaten by Blackrock in the All-Ireland final.

Fennelly added two further county medals to his collection in 1979 and 1980. In the latter year he won a second Leinster title before finally winning his first All-Ireland club title at the beginning of 1981. In 1982 and 1983 he won another brace of county championship medals. The 1983 win was once again converted into a Leinster title as well as a second All-Ireland club title at the start of 1984. Fennelly brought his county championship tally up to eight with wins in 1985, 1988 and 1989. In 1989 he also won his fourth Leinster club medal before converting this into his third All-Ireland club title. On the occasion of the final all seven Fennelly brothers lined out for Ballyhale, a record which will probably never be beaten. Fennelly won his ninth county medal with Ballyhale in 1991.


Fennelly’s hurling skills were quickly noted and he joined the Kilkenny minor hurling panel in the early 1970s. It was a glorious era for the county’s minor hurling team as they dominated the minor provincial championship for the entire decade. He won a Leinster title in this grade in 1971, however, Kilkenny were beaten in the All-Ireland final by Cork. Fennelly won a second provincial title in 1972, however, ‘the Cats’ gained revenge on Cork in the championship decider and Fennelly collected an All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship medal. He quickly joined the Kilkenny under-21 team where he won back-to-back Leinster and All-Ireland titles in 1974 and 1975. Fennelly won a third provincial under-21 title in 1976, however, Kilkenny were defeated by Cork in the subsequent All-Ireland final.

Fennelly subsequently joined the Kilkenny senior hurling panel, however, he found it difficult to find a regular spot on the team. He won a Leinster title in 1979 before later coming on as a substitute to claim a senior All-Ireland medal. Fennelly won several other Leinster and All-Ireland titles throughout the 1980s but as a substitute. He finally took over as goalkeeper from Noel Skehan and won back-to-back Leinster titles on the field of play in 1986 and 1987. In the latter year his side were defeated by Galway in the All-Ireland final. In spite of this Fennelly won a National Hurling League medal in 1986. Four years later in 1990 he won a second National League medal and he retired from inter-county hurling shortly afterwards.

Managerial career[edit]

Kevin Fennelly
Inter-county management
Years County
1997 - 1998
2001 - 2002
Inter-county titles
County League Province All-Ireland
Kilkenny 0 1 0


In retirement from playing Fennelly maintained a keen interest in the game. In 1998 he served as manager of the Kilkenny senior hurling team. That year he guided ‘the Cats’ to a first Leinster title since 1993, however, in the second year of the ‘back-door system’ Offaly, the defeated Leinster finalists, later beat Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final. Fennelly resigned following this defeat and was replaced by Brian Cody.[1]


Fennelly was appointed manager of the Dublin Senior Hurling team in November 2001 on a three-year agreement.[2] Following an unsuccessful National League run, Dublin were knocked out of the Leinster Championship by Laois at the quarter final stage.[3] In the 2002 Championship, Dublin overcame Meath[4] to qualify for a Leinster semi final match against Wexford. They were beaten 3-15 to 2-12.[5] In a qualifier match against Clare, Dublin were soundly beaten 3-22 to 1-08 to put an end to their Championship season.[6] In November 2002, after two years as manager, Fennelly stepped down by mutual agreement.[7]

Political career[edit]

Fennelly was elected as a Fianna Fáil member of Kilkenny County Council for the Thomastown Local Electoral Area at the 1991 local elections. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the party at the 1992 general election in the Carlow–Kilkenny constituency. He lost his Council seat in the 1999 local elections.


  1. ^ "Fennelly admits he could never match Cody's level of commitment". Irish Independent. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "GAA: Fennelly unveiled as new Dublin boss". RTÉ Sport. 2001-01-15. Retrieved 2009-09-11. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Cuddy breaks Dublin hearts with late, late show". RTÉ Sport. 2001-05-20. Retrieved 2009-09-11. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Dublin through to Leinster semi-final". RTÉ Sport. 2002-05-26. Retrieved 2009-09-11. [permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Antrim, Wexford and Kilkenny win". RTÉ Sport. 2002-11-20. Retrieved 2009-06-09. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Clare too strong for youthful Dublin". RTÉ Sport. 2002-06-15. Retrieved 2009-09-11. [permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Fennelly steps down as Dublin hurling boss". RTÉ Sport. 2002-11-20. Retrieved 2009-09-11. [permanent dead link]
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Liam Walsh
Kilkenny Senior Hurling Captain
Succeeded by
Seán Fennelly
Preceded by
Nickey Brennan
Kilkenny Senior Hurling Manager
Succeeded by
Brian Cody
Preceded by
Michael O'Grady
Dublin Senior Hurling Manager
Succeeded by
Marty Morris
Preceded by
Ger Fennelly
All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Final
winning captain

Succeeded by
Tadhg Murphy
Preceded by
Niall Patterson
(Loughgiel Shamrocks)
All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Final
winning captain

Succeeded by
Johnny Brennan
(St. Martin's)