Offaly boss Fennelly could play on with club next year
The Offaly hurling manager and ‘Mr Indestructible’ of Kilkenny hurling, Michael Fennelly, may not have danced his final jig on the playing fields of Ireland.
The warrior hurler who is Michael Fennelly has pushed and dragged his battered and bruised body through many a battle during a glittering career.
And now he has hinted that the most recent All-Ireland club success with his beloved Shamrocks from Ballyhale may not be his swansong.
“We will see over the next couple of months how things go." They were the far from surrendering words from a battler and winner who has been dogged by back and shoulder problems virtually throughout his career, and by knee injuries in more recent times.
Fennelly, who many regard as a force of nature, was the Hurler of the Year in 2011. He won eight senior All-Irelands with Kilkenny during an honour-laden 12 season career.
And with Shamrocks, he has harvested a terrific eight county championships, while the most recent All-Ireland club success scored against Borris-Ileigh (Tipperary) was his fifth at national level.
“The body is not too bad,” the Shamrocks skipper offered when asked how he was feeling with the start of the Kilkenny league/championship only weeks away. “I got through the final and I felt good after it for the first time in ages.
“It is not too bad. I will be close to 36 next season. That scares me a small bit.”
Fennelly will celebrate his 35th birthday on February 28. However, after getting through the Leinster and All-Ireland club campaigns without suffering too much hardship, he was left with the wonder that maybe there might be a bit more to be dragged from his ageing body.
When Shamrocks won the All-Ireland final in 2019, Fennelly spent nearly seven months afterwards rebuilding a bad knee that had troubled him throughout the campaign. This time he sailed through the campaign and the final.
“I did alright,” was Fennelly’s tough self-analysis of his most recent performance in Croke Park. “I suppose there are a few things I could have done better, but my feeling is that maybe one of the younger players might be better out there at centre back.”
He insisted that managing the Offaly senior hurling team was now his focus.
“I am going to go off and try and relax and do something different, maybe play a bit of golf if I can find the time, or go off for a cycle or something,” Fennelly revealed.
“I want to try and switch off completely as a player.
“Last year when we finished I had to go off and rehab my knee over six or seven months. I couldn’t cycle or play golf or relax. I was on crutches for six or seven weeks.
“It was hard. Now I can go off and do a few new things, if I can find the time.”
He said he was excited and inspired by the challenge of trying to revive the fortunes of Offaly hurling.
“What I learned everywhere throughout my career will help me in that role,” he insisted. “I had great managers in Brian (Cody) and Henry (Shefflin), James McGarry; my father managed us for a long time at under-age and senior level, so there has been a lot of learning.
“Still you have to find your own way and see what works and what doesn’t,” he said when he signed off.