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All-Irelands, hatred and strikes — Tom Kenny’s Cork journey

Grenagh clubman Tom Kenny talks a stroll through his career, from winning back-to-back All-Irelands to almost crowning it with a third medal in 2013

Grenagh clubman Tom Kenny talks a stroll through his career with Shane Stapleton, from winning back-to-back All-Irelands with Cork to almost crowning it with a third medal in 2013.

Tom Kenny believe that Cork are simply missing “just that bit of luck” to win an All-Ireland.

No Rebel County side has claimed the Liam MacCarthy title since his vintage of 2004/05, and they are now in danger of matching their longest barren spell which came between 1903 and ’19.

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The Grenagh man was drafted onto John Meyler’s coaching ticket after the Munster championship in 2019, giving him an insight into the qualities now at Kieran Kingston’s disposal.

He also had prior involvement with Shane Kingston, Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon at UCC, informing him of why Cork are well placed to challenge.

In our interview, Kenny addresses the prevailing consensus that the Rebels lack steel, and expresses concern at the age profile of their main man.

“Unfortunately the talisman Patrick Horgan is a year or two out from probably retiring, so they need someone up there quickly who is capable of filling his boots,” says Kenny.

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“They need a leader up there and (someone) getting all those big scores, taking that team over the end line.

“It would be a shame if he finished his career without an All-Ireland medal, considering he got so close a couple of times.

“But there is fantastic talent on that team. It is that bit of luck, and confidence that luck brings.”

Kenny spent a decade in the red shirt, winning four Munster titles and two All-Irelands.

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That might well have been three had Brian Gavin blown the full-time whistle before Domhnall O’Donovan’s famous leveller in 2013.

Kenny insists that Stephen Moylan did the right thing with the much-debated sideline at the end — recalling that he was thinking “put it dead, put it dead” as the Rebel forward lined up his cut.

“Clare definitely got the advantage from the drawn game by getting the equalising score… we thought we had it won.”

Kenny also speaks about his first two seasons with the Rebels — each of which ended in All-Ireland clashes with Kilkenny and a meeting with UCC teammate Tommy Walsh in the players lounge.

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“Crazy, yeah, crazy,” he says of Cork not winning an All-Ireland since 2005. “The whole strike and the management in the subsequent years, would we have won another All-Ireland with Kilkenny at the height of their powers? I’m not sure.

“I’d like to say we would but we definitely would have gotten to a few more finals in the late noughties if everyone was pulling the same way.”

In a wide-ranging interview, the Grenagh man reveals the advice given to him him by Donal O’Grady that led to his stunning goal against Wexford in 2004, and recalls the lessons he brought forward to his hurling career from Ireland soccer trials as a youngster.

Jump to 55 seconds for Kenny’s goal

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Jimmy Barry Murphy, perhaps the most popular Rebels of all time, managed Kenny in his final couple of seasons in the red shirt.

“It’s hard to put your finger on it,” says Kenny of JBM’s appeal. “He’s very enthusiastic and infectious.

“He has a real Cork accent and goes 100 miles per hour. He’d have you really worked up and driven to do well.

“When I look back, our tactics were probably more sophisticated under Donal O’Grady or John Allen, but we still played brilliantly under Jimmy and got big scores and won big games.

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“That’s the type of person he is… just this real passionate Cork GAA person.”

Click play on the video at the top of the page to watch the Tom Kenny interview.

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