Kenny warms to coaching role after his Offaly playing days cruelly cut short
Just months after trialling for the AFL Down Under and days after playing an underage Irish rugby international, Colin Kenny got the earth-shattering news that his sporting career was over.
Diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, the talented Offaly hurler/footballer had to call a halt to his playing days at the age of 16 with a loop recorder inserted in his chest to allow cardiologists monitor his heart-rate around the clock.
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Devastation was the overriding emotion given his sporting passion but when he turned to the gym to get his kicks a few years later, his readings remained relatively normal so he chanced his arm on the pitch again with Ferbane.
Being voted Offaly's Junior Footballer of the Year despite game-time limited to 20-minute cameos showed everyone what they were missing but he soon had to pull back after a few nervy readings, only to quickly find himself relocated on the sideline as a mentor.
Kenny's happy-go-lucky character has always shone through despite the thundering setback and his outlook on having his sporting dreams taken away, and watching Ferbane's senior county title success as a spectator last month, is a breath of fresh air.
"As time goes on, it's such a commitment to play hurling and football, never mind if you were to give rugby a go. There's disadvantages, like the lads winning the senior final, of course you'd be mad to play in that," Kenny says.
"But this summer I got to go to festivals, I get to do stuff that the boys don't get to do. I'd be good at trying new things, I went jiving there for the craic recently. I kind of use it as an advantage that I can go and do more stuff rather than pussing about."
With his father Mick as manager, Kenny was enlisted as coach for the Naomh Ciarán ladies footballers and he has shown knowledge beyond the tender age of 22 to help guide them to today's All-Ireland intermediate club final against Antrim side St Paul's.
With his sister Kate their star forward, it's a real family affair and she has picked up where Colin's career was cruelly ended to announce herself as one of the most promising dual talents in the country.
Voted Offaly Player of the Year in senior camogie and ladies football last year at just 17, Kate fired 3-5 last weekend as St Rynagh's claimed back-to-back Leinster intermediate titles having notched 1-10 in the provincial football final.
Kate - and team-mate Róisín Egan - is chasing a rare All-Ireland double while balancing Leaving Certificate preparations and this week was particularly busy as the 18-year-old was doing her Christmas exams in Gallen CS.
Colin is regularly tasked with bringing her down to the local pitch and firing up the generator late at night to allow her practise frees when the study is concluded, and he hopes it all pays off in Cavan today.
The last few months have been a whirlwind in Ferbane and as one colourful local puts it, "everyone's just waiting for an excuse to go mad in Danny Gleeson's pub all winter and we're getting plenty of them this year".
After today, they may have another.
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