Kerry Footballers

Paddy Kennedy - Kerry's Legendary Midfielder

by Weeshie Fogarty

Ask a follower of Gaelic football anywhere to name a half-dozen of Kerry's all-time greats and you will get an infinite variety of selections. But I venture to say that all lists would include the name of Paddy Kennedy of Annascaul. Born in 1916, on a date that often coincides with All-Ireland final day, Paddy was as interested in football when he died as he was when he first donned the green-and-gold of the Kingdom as a member of the minor team that won the title of that year, 1933.

Others on that great Kerry Minor side included, Timmy o Leary from the Killarney Legion club who won three in a row minor medals, goalie Brendan Reidy, Billy Myres, Bill Dillon, Donie Griffin and Brendan Cronin. So Kerry completed a magnificent three in a row minors. 1931-32-33
It was the start of a wonderful career for Paddy and proud times for Kerry people
He played in the senior finals of 1937, '38, '39, '40, '41, '44, '46 and 1947.  Consider replays in 1938 and 1946 plus a Junior final in 1934 and Paddy's participation in the game at the highest level can be viewed with the awe it merits.
Paddy was a genial man who loved to reminisce. In an interview before his death he said that Cork were not a threat to Kerry's supremacy in the 'thirties and early 'forties.  "Tipperary and Clare were far more dangerous then," says Paddy.  "It was the arrival of Eamonn Young, Fachtna O'Donovan, the late Weeshie Murphy, and Tadhgo Crowley, among others, that gave Cork football the character and challenge it has held ever since.  Youngie was the driving force – didn't he quip once that he needed the help of fourteen Kerrymen to win a Railway Cup."

Paddy's straight-up spectacular high fielding was a phenomenon of that golden spell.  "It required strong legs," remarked Paddy, "and my recipe was long walks – ten miles at a time and ballroom dancing."  Paddy's prowess as a dancer was such that professionalism is that sport was advocated for him on numerous occasions.

He longs for more high-fielding in present day football and also regrets that the shoulder charge has all but disappeared from the game.  "Fair shouldering never brought rancour and it encouraged quick delivery of the ball.  Football has become a carrying game in which forwards have most advantages," says Paddy.

Even though he was best known as a mid-fielder, Paddy played quite often at centre-back as well and admits that he has great sympathy for present-day half-backs.  "There is no way a half-back can dispossess passing forwards without fouling," are his words.

It is his opinion, too, that the enlarged square favours forwards too much.  "Players who would never score goals are being awarded penalties and this is had on backs," is how he put it, and he is equally adamant on the new status of goalkeepers.  "It is against my nature to see them (goalkeepers) immune from some of the basic rules of the game."
Paddy Kennedy was full of admiration for the Dublin team of the early seventies. He paid them this compliment: "They have, with dedication and discipline, perfected the game under current rules and I am aware of the hard work involved in reaching four finals in a row.

When Paddy gave this rare interview it was just over thirty years since retired from the game. He had innumerable medals and trophies but cherished, beyond all, the friendships made and preserved through football.  As he relaxed, recounting the origins of some of these friendships, hours melt into minutes and Paddy enjoys it almost as much as the appreciative audience.

Paddy Kennedy and Mick o Connell were the greatest Kerry midfielders of all time and terrace Talk is delighted to remember Paddy in this little tribute. We should never forget our legends of the past.

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