Road to Croker: Rob Kearney’s GAA pedigree

Word of mouth, by the numbers, Hennelly the hero for Mayo and more

Rob Kearney has returned to playing GAA in recent weeks. Photo: Inpho

Rob Kearney has returned to playing GAA in recent weeks. Photo: Inpho

 

Rob Kearney’s return to Gaelic football with Cooley Kickhams has generated headlines. Before he became a rugby superstar, Kearney was a classy footballer.

At 16, Kearney made the Louth minors in 2002. The Wee County had not won a match in nine years but won three in a round robin that year and four the next before ousting Offaly in the Leinster quarter-final.

Dublin needed an injury-time point to salvage a draw in the semi-final. Kearney flew in from France for the replay but was carrying a knock and couldn’t start; Dublin won by five.

By then, though, rugby was taking over. In 2004, Kearney was in great form for his club senior team (managed by Pete McGrath) but missed a chunk of the campaign because he was in Australia with the Irish schools rugby team.

His last Gaelic match was the 2004 Louth SFC final, Cooley losing to local rivals St Pat’s. The very next day, the then-18-year-old signed his academy papers.

Kearney has been priced as a 14/1 shot to play for Louth in next year’s Leinster SFC. Stranger things have happened.

Word of Mouth

“How is anyone surprised by Conor Lane’s performance? It’s absolutely on point for him” - Monaghan footballer Colin Walshe doesn’t hold back on Twitter.

By the Numbers

2,540: Days since Dublin’s previous defeat in a Senior Championship match.

Olympics may be too big an ask for McCarthy

Dublin legend Paul Curran came in for plenty of flak online for comments he made in an interview about James McCarthy.

“He has the athletic ability that so many others don’t have,” Curran asserted.

“James McCarthy could have been running in the Olympics as a 400m runner in the last couple of weeks. I have no doubt about that. He’s blessed with that sort of talent.”

Cue derision from athletes and track journos alike. “So naive,” tweeted RT É’s Greg Allen, with athletics writer Cathal Dennehy posting “I have no doubt Marcus Lawler could have led Carlow to six All Irelands in a row if he chose football.”

Hennelly the hero

Martin Carney calling Rob Hennelly’s equaliser on Midwest Radio was glorious.

Michael D McAndrew: “This to level it and bring it to extra time. Come on Robbie . . .” A pause, followed by the roar of the crowd.

Carney (shouting): “Yes! He nailed it! He nailed it! He nailed it! He did it!

“There’s a Mayo man down, number 10 is down, Diarmuid O’Connor. There’s a Dublin man after hitting him. There should be a Dublin man sent off here . . . but Hennelly, Hennelly, Hennelly. Carve his name with pride. Because again and again, that man has got more abuse from Mayo fans. And fair play to him!”

Mayo’s goalkeeper Rob Hennelly was one of many heroes on Saturday. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Mayo’s goalkeeper Rob Hennelly was one of many heroes on Saturday. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Offaly’s tune of the summer

It had to happen. The first GAA song of the summer (we think) was released last week.

‘Thunder Twenties’ by Brownie and Brendan is a homage to the Offaly under-20s, who defeated Roscommon in yesterday’s All-Ireland final.

The melody comes from ‘Alright’ by Supergrass, a hit back in 1995, with - of course - the lyrics tweaked, set against the customary montage of scores and big plays.

“We are young, we run free, and we love, Offaly,” it begins. “We are green, gold and white, we’re alright…”

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