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AFL Swans farewell Tadhg Kennelly

By Nick Perry 01/09/2011 12:07:55 PM Comments (0)

Tadhg Kennelly hopes shedding worry by deciding to retire will help him return to form for Sydney's AFL finals campaign.

The first Irish-born player to win a premiership, 30-year-old Kennelly admitted he'd been so stressed thinking about his future it had taken a toll on his on-field performance.

And he felt a weight off his shoulders on Thursday when announcing he'll retire at the end of the season, his 10th since debuting with the club he joined as a wide-eyed, homesick 17-year-old fresh from Ireland.

Renowned for his surging runs, Kennelly has struggled to reproduce his best form in 2011 and was dropped for the Swans' round 22 clash with St Kilda before returning in last week's upset away win over Geelong.

"Now I look back on it and I think that was definitely the anguish of the mental stress I was putting myself under, I suppose thinking so much about my future," said Kennelly.

"I'm generally a very positive person (but) that's taken its toll on me physically. It's definitely affecting me on the field."

Kennelly said the writing had been on the wall since he injured himself against Fremantle in mid-July.

"You twig with things (like) am I depressed, or what's going on with me, it's very hard to try and figure out that kind of stuff," said Kennelly.

"When I made a decision to retire it's been a big weight off my shoulders."

One of the most successful converts to emerge from AFL's association with Gaelic football, Kennelly will long be remembered for his spritely jig on the presentation dais to celebrate Sydney's 2005 AFL premiership victory and his heritage.

He has played 194 senior games, including the 2006 grand final loss to West Coast.

He took a year off in 2009 to return to Ireland, where he achieved his dream of winning an All-Ireland medal with Kerry in Gaelic football.

"I've been at the Swans half my life," an emotional Kennelly said. "I'll be forever indebted to the Swans.

"I put an enormous amount of love, passion and heart into this place and I got it back tenfold."

Kennelly will line up for the seventh-placed Swans against Brisbane in their final regular season match at the SCG as they attempt to snare sixth spot and a home final against St Kilda.

He said the team's return to form in the lead up to the finals had been "fantastic" after a mid-season slump, and showed the best they had to offer.

"I'm looking forward to playing Brisbane on the weekend and going deep into September," he said.

As for the future, Kennelly seemed to indicate a return to Ireland or Gaelic football was not on his immediate radar.

"I hope to still be involved in the AFL in some capacity, whether coaching or media," he said.

Swans players turned out in force on Thursday to applaud Kennelly, with coach John Longmire, captain Adam Goodes, former coach Paul Roos and club legend Michael O'Loughlin present.

"That's what I'm going to miss the most, just the camaraderie, just being there with the boys," said Kennelly.

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