KERRY footballer Tadhg Kennelly has admitted that his challenge on Nicholas Murphy three seconds into last month's All-Ireland football final was a premeditated act designed to lay down a marker.
Kennelly says he disclosed his intentions to room-mate Paul Galvin on the eve of the final. "I'm going to charge in and hit someone at the start," he says he told Galvin. Murphy received a high and dangerous shoulder charge when Kennelly sprinted from his position to tackle the midfielder as he wheeled away with the ball straight after the throw-in.
The revelation that he had decided to take the law into his own hands is made in his autobiography, Unfinished Business, which is to be published this week.
Referee Marty Duffy awarded a free to Cork but took no action against the Kerry forward. The offence was a Category 2 offence under the rule book and merited a red card.
Kennelly returned from Australia to win an All-Ireland medal with Kerry last month, fulfilling his ambition, and played a starring role in the final. His dream return to Ireland culminated in being chosen on the Vodafone All Stars team at left half-forward on Friday night.
The GAA has refused to comment on the revelation made by Kennelly, who is employed by Kerry County Board as a GAA coach.
It has also been learned that the experimental rules which were designed to rid the game of cynical tackling and professional fouling have been binned, with GAA authorities deciding that they were no longer required.
The rules sought to remove blights like high tackling and late hits from Gaelic games and had had a run in secondary competitions this year but were shelved for the championship, pending a later review.
Kennelly would have received a yellow card under those rules and been forced to sit out the rest of the final, although he would have been replaced by a substitute.
There is no suggestion that Kennelly's decision was initiated by anyone other than the player himself or was part of the Kerry game plan. "My theory," he explains, "was that I really wanted to set the tone for our side. We wanted Cork to know that we were a totally different animal to the one they'd faced three months earlier."
He went on: "As we got to our positions, I looked across at Galvin, who nodded, and then positioned myself on the line ready to race in when the referee put the ball in the air. My eyes were almost rolling around in the back of my head. I was like a raging bull."
He says he "timed it right" and caught Murphy "perfectly on the chin". His message was: "Cop that. It's different this time, boys".
The Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) examined footage of the incident after the final and decided not to ask Duffy to review his decision.