Tomás Ó Sé: I have nothing against Tadhg Kennelly, but I just hate what he’s doing
In his column in today's Irish Independent, Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé hits out at the practice of AFL clubs luring top Irish GAA talents abroad, and also took issue with former team-mate Tadhg Kennelly's role in identifying young players to go to Australia.
Ó Sé's column was in response to two-time minor All-Ireland winner Mark O'Connor's AFL debut last weekend, and also the performance of current Kerry underage star David Clifford, who notched 2-8 for the Kingdom in their win over Cork in the Munster minor semi-final recently.
Clifford is rumoured to be a target for AFL clubs, and Ó Sé expressed his disappointment that even a county as strong as Kerry seems unable to keep their best players at home.
"There’s a rumour doing the rounds that Clifford will be heading Down Under for a trial in the next few weeks. I hope it’s not true," Ó Sé said.
"Watching Clifford score 2-8 last week, all I kept thinking was that it was like seeing a young Maurice Fitz back in action. His performance, genuinely, thrilled me. And I’m not making any grand revelation when I say that, if he’s lost to Australia, Kerry people will be devastated.
"Now nobody can blame a young player trying his luck in a professional sport. In some respects, maybe we’d all have loved to have been able to live the life of full-time athletes. But there are people in Dingle heartbroken that Mark O’Connor is gone.
"And now the fear in Kerry is that Clifford’s head will be turned by O’Connor’s early impact with Geelong."
Ó Sé then addressed Kennelly's role in the AFL's talent hunt. The 2009 All-Ireland-winner is the Official Talent Coordinator for the AFL, whose job is to find players who would be suited to transferring to the sport.
After Clifford's spectacular minor performance, the duo exchanged tweets on the subject of players leaving, and Ó Sé says that he is expressing a feeling held by many former Kerry players towards Kennelly at the moment.
"Let’s make no bones about this. Right now, a lot of people in Kerry are cursing Tadhg. Cursing one of our own. That can’t be right," he said.
"I’d say any focus on this story must be bothering him. If I met him tomorrow, I’d say straight up, “Tadhg, I’ve nothing against you personally. But I hate what you’re doing.”
"Because people in Kerry are sick of this. A lot of Tadhg’s former team-mates are sick of this too, they just don’t feel comfortable saying it. But I think Clifford leaving would be the straw that broke the camel’s back."
Read Ó Sé's full column in today's Irish Independent.