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Fennelly reveals captaincy jitters ahead of league win


Kilkenny captain Colin Fennelly. Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny captain Colin Fennelly. Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny captain Colin Fennelly. Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

THE Kilkenny captaincy doesn't tend to hang heavily on the incumbent's shoulders and at first glance, the honour doesn't seem to be unduly afflicting Colin Fennelly either.

"I spoke to Brian (Cody) about it at the start of the year and he just said 'Look, put the captaincy out of your head'," Fennelly explained after lifting the first trophy of his tenure in Nowlan Park on Sunday.

"He just told me to put my mind on what you want, and for me, that was a place at corner-forward or full-forward. I still have my place and that's the main thing."

Nine different men have lifted Liam MacCarthy under Brian Cody's watch; three of them Fennelly's Ballyhale Shamrocks clubmates, including his brother Michael, and the positional breakdown reads: three backs, three midfielders and three forwards.

So it's probably no surprise that the role doesn't seem to perturb a man still establishing himself as one of Kilkenny's starting forwards.

That the role is decided by the reigning county champions, and that Kilkenny are the last of a dying tradition in this regard seems to have little or no bearing on any given captain's effectiveness.

Fennelly was measured and composed yet admitted afterwards of suffering from some captaincy jitters.

"The nerves are there alright. It's a big thing being captain and that's all to do with the club. (When you're captain) a lot of lads look up to you and they expect that your game is going to come up. They look up to you in matches. I haven't really brought it, but you see other lads bringing the game and hopefully, in future, I will bring it."



On the podium, he spoke of Cody's shadow in his manager's absence, particularly on such a unique occasion in Nowlan Park. "Being at home with a full house, there was a bit of extra pressure," Fennelly admitted. "You find with him not being there you'd miss him, but the two boys that are there, Michael Dempsey and Martin Fogarty, really stepped up.

"It's unusual to be playing at home in front of a full house – you hear the roar, it was huge," Fennelly revealed.

"The nerves were there for him (Michael Fennelly) too playing up in the forwards. He came up trumps. He was playing centre-forward for the club the week before as well and he came up trumps there too. He got a goal and two or three points for the club. He's having a good run at centre-forward.

"It's all to do with hard work," he adds. "In the first half I got a few hooks and blocks in and the lads were saying that's all the want – if you hook and block all day the scores will come.

"The main thing is to win the ball and if you don't work for it, you won't win it," he concludes, a familiar message from a Kilkenny captain, regardless of the name, age or jersey number.