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Seapoint's PK still top of props at 42

The modern game of rugby takes its toll on players: the training, the tempo and sheer physical hardship they endure means it is very rare to see top league players extend their career into their 30s, let alone their 40s.

Seapoint are very lucky to have one such player -- many would even say 'legend' -- Paul Kelly or, to most people, 'PK'.

PK started his playing career in the 1970s at youth level, when Seapoint plied their trade in Sallynoggin. Following in his father's footsteps he joined the ranks of the front row and, like his father before him, went straight in at tight-head.

Having played on the Seapoint U19 Gale Cup-winning team of 1986-87, PK was seconded to the 1st XV the following year to join the front row with another Seapoint legend, Tom O'Connor. Kelly's skills were soon noted and it wasn't long before the senior clubs came looking. PK subsequently joined Wanderers, playing alongside then Ireland captain Phillip Matthews.

After a number of years with Wanderers, Kelly was looking for a new challenge and moved up Donnybrook to join Bective. Here PK honed his skills in the dark arts of the front row and he became a master of it. Being with clubs such as Wanderers and Bective gave him the opportunity to play with and against some of Ireland's top frontrow forwards including Nick Popplewell and Peter "The Claw" Clohessy. Among his team-mates in Bective was an up-and-coming backrow player by the name of Trevor Brennan.

While PK relished the challenge of top-flight rugby, he had not forgotten his roots and was a regular on the sidelines (and bar) back at Seapoint, and sure enough PK was to don the black, green and blue jersey once again and rejoin the ranks of his boyhood club. Seapoint, at the time, were languishing in the ranks of Division 3 in the Leinster League but it wasn't long before 'Point were on their way back up and competing for the Leinster League Division 1 title and in the 2003-04 season they secured the coveted title.

In the following years they went on to win two Metropolitan Cups, the All-Ireland Junior Cup (in 2007), and five Spencer Cups, with Kelly playing an integral part in Seapoint's golden decade. This year, Seapoint's 75th in Leinster Rugby, has seen the club secure the Leinster League Division 1A title with two games to spare and will see them fight among the provisional winners in the round robin for the elusive AIL Division 3 spot.

Again PK, at the young age of 42, had played his part in this year's hard-fought campaign until a serious shoulder injury against Dundalk in November seemed to have put an end to his season and possibly his career.

The words "early" retirement were not in his vocabulary and in January 2010 he once again took to the field in Seapoint's Spencer Cup semi-final win over Malahide, thus achieving a milestone that very few players could hope to reach, a playing career in Leinster's top flight spanning four decades.

Seapoint, its members and friends would like to congratulate Paul on this great achievement and wish him all the best in his rugby playing days. Another 20 years may even see Paul's one-year-old son, Darragh, join his dad in the front row. Well, stranger things have happened!


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