Wick­low’s rock is ready to roll

Kennedy con­fi­dent of vic­tory

Bray People - - SPORT - BRENDAN LAWRENCE Sports Edi­tor

WICK­LOW hurl­ing goal­keeper, Ted Kennedy, has had the plea­sure of know­ing the very best of times with his county, but he has also en­dured the hor­ror of liv­ing through the worst of times and, as the Gar­den County pre­pare for their Christy Ring bat­tle with Kil­dare this weekend, the Carnew man is fully aware that the present sit­u­a­tion is up there with the best of them.

The Kennedy name is syn­ony­mous with hurl­ing in Carnew and Wick­low. Ted is the last line of de­fence for the county and for Carnew, while brother Liam's tow­er­ing frame will be found in the half back line of both squads as well.

Other brother Thomas, a.k.a 'Pheas­ant', is also well known for his hurl­ing skills and can be found at mid­field for the club's Se­nior foot­ballers.

The most ob­vi­ous thing to say about Ted Kennedy, be­sides the fact that he's an ex­cel­lent goal­keeper, is that he's a pure gen­tle­man. A tough look­ing de­meanour be­lies a gen­tle na­ture be­neath and this man is pure hurl­ing, all the way down to his toes.

“Started play­ing when I went to school in Clone­gal I sup­pose, I've been play­ing it for­ever re­ally,” said the 31-yearold car­pen­ter. “Started play­ing for Carnew at un­der-14, then played all the way up through the grades for the club and for the county. Played at cor­ner for­ward when we won the All-Ire­land B fi­nal, I think I scored 1-03 or 2-03 or some­thing like that,” he added ca­su­ally.

It's in­ter­est­ing to note his po­si­tion­ing at the op­po­site end of the field in those early days and we won­dered how he had made the pro­gres­sion back down the field to where he now struts his stuff, on the goal line.

“Well I started play­ing there for Carnew, lads re­tired and we had no goalie so they put me in there be­cause I could catch the ball. As well as that, I started slow­ing down as well, I started slow­ing down at a young age to be hon­est,” he jokes.

Ted Kennedy is a for­mi­da­ble fig­ure on the goal line for his club or county and was missed dur­ing a two-year pe­riod where he was un­able to com­mit to the cause. But, he's back now, and ready for any­thing.

“I just couldn't com­mit for two years and I went off to play golf and I won the Cap­tain's Prize down in Col­lat­tin Golf Club and the match­play in the four­somes and I was beaten in the fi­nal of the sin­gles so I en­joyed that. I was at 15 (hand­i­cap) and now I'm a seven,” he ex­plained.

But the draw of the hurl­ing is a hard one to re­sist for some­one who's as pas­sion­ate about the sport as Ted Kennedy.

“I started back with them just be­fore Christ­mas and it's been bril­liant from the start. I was se­ri­ously out of the shape then but Robert Doyle is the trainer this year and he only came in this year but he's very good so I've got my place back and it's good now,” he said.

Kennedy is ob­vi­ously very fa­mil­iar with Wick­low man­ager Casey O'Brien. He de­scribes the Wick­low Town man as “very calm in the dress­ing room”, and some­one who “tells it as he sees it”.

“Lis­ten, he played for years and he has trans­formed hurl­ing in the county. I was play­ing when Titch Phe­lan was over the team and that was fright­en­ing how bad things got that year. I re­mem­ber go­ing to play West­meath in a rel­e­ga­tion fi­nal and we barely had a team. We went down to Di­vi­sion 3B or some­thing and we were play­ing the likes of Ty­rone and them lads. We dis­patched them fairly handy and got back up but Casey got the hurl­ing people in the county back to­gether and with Brian Glee­son and Gerry Mur­ray, and Em­met O'Sul­li­van now, he got us all push­ing the one way to im­prove Wick­low hurl­ing. You can see it in the team, there's a nice blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Ted.

The league vic­tory against Down was a sweet one and Ted was ex­cel­lent in the fi­nal played in Na­van. The Carnew man said the squad were con­fi­dent go­ing into the clash de­spite go­ing down to de­feat in Bal­ly­cran ear­lier in the league.

“We were con­fi­dent go­ing into the fi­nal. They beat us up in Bal­ly­cran but the sod was de­plorable up there. They had to cut the grass with a lawn­mower around the edges so we could see the lines of the pitch. You couldn't see the ball with the length of the grass. So I said com­ing home that day that when we get them lads to a proper pitch we'll take care of them boys. And that day in Na­van, be­fore the game, both teams were warm­ing up on the pitch out­side and a shower of rain came and they ran in­side and when the rain passed they came back out and I said to the lads “we have these lads bet”.

On Satur­day Ted will prowl the goal line in New­bridge as Wick­low take on Kil­dare in the open­ing clash of the 2014 Christy Ring Cup. With the Li­ly­whites suf­fer­ing rel­e­ga­tion the Carnew man is un­der no il­lu­sions about the dif­fi­cul­ties of the game ahead but he feels the Wick­low team owe Kil­dare a lit­tle some­thing af­ter last year's semi-fi­nal de­feat in Ark­low.

“We're go­ing well, ob­vi­ously we're with­out Christy Moore­house who's sus­pended for the first round but we're go­ing very well in train­ing, it's all sharp stuff. Kil­dare got rel­e­gated so we're ex­pect­ing them to be mov­ing fairly well and that they're go­ing to be out to prove some­thing but this year Meath bet us in the Ke­hoe Cup and we bet them in the league. Down bet us in Bal­ly­cran and we bet them in the fi­nal. And Kil­dare bet us last year so that's go­ing to be put right,” said Ted.

Wick­low have come hurt­fully close to Christy Ring suc­cess over re­cent years with two fi­nal ap­pear­ances. What, in Ted Kennedy's opin­ion, would a win in the com­pe­ti­tion mean for the Gar­den County?

“It would mean ev­ery­thing,” he said sim­ply. “It would mean that the hi­er­ar­chy would have to stand up and take no­tice. I mean, Casey gets huge re­spect from us, and like­wise, we get it from him, but you'd like to see that same re­spect come for us from the hi­er­ar­chy in this county,” he added.

Wick­low take on Kil­dare this Satur­day in New­bridge in the Christy Ring Cup. It's a healthy look­ing Wick­low side lit­tered with lots of new and tal­ented hurlers and back­boned by men who have sol­diered though the good times and the, as Ted Kennedy de­scribed it, “fright­en­ing” times.

But all that's changed now. The world is a dif­fer­ent place. Casey O'Brien is work­ing his magic. Wick­low hurl­ing is on the up and Ted Kennedy is go­ing to do his damnedest to keep it that way, to keep it hon­est, to keep it real, to keep it true. Any­thing else would be against the man's na­ture. Quick Ques­tions Best Sport­ing Achieve­ment - First Senor hurl­ing cham­pi­onship with Carnew, the All-Ire­land B and win­ning the Cap­tain's Prize in Coollattin Golf Club. Other hob­bies - I play a bit of darts. Fun­ni­est Wick­low team mate - Ro­nan Keddy, has to be, it's his per­son­al­ity, and he's al­ways just womac­ing along.

Tough­est Wick­low team mate - Well I wouldn't like to be mark­ing Eu­gene Dunne, I can tell you that. He'd be a hard lit­tle man now.

Best dressed Wick­low team mate - Has to be Luke Maloney from Bray. He could come to train­ing in a pair of blue suede shoes.

Wick­low’s Ted Kennedy in ac­tion against Down in the Di­vi­sion 2B league fi­nal in Na­van.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.