Busy Fennelly enjoys life in fast lane

Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks) strikes for a point with Aidan Harte (Gort) closing in during the Senior All-Ireland Club Hurling Semi-Final in Tullamore.  (Photo: Eoin Hennessy)
Ballyhale Shamrocks attack leader, Colin Fennelly, reckons he is a lucky, luck man.

Ballyhale Shamrocks attack leader, Colin Fennelly, reckons he is a lucky, luck man.

Last September he got to do battle in an All-Ireland final and replay at inter-county level. On St Patrick’s Day he will get to chase gold at All-Ireland club level against Munster champions, Kilmallock (Limerick).

“It is absolutely terrific,” he beamed when pondering life in the hurling fast lane. “It is only six months since the All-Ireland final with Kilkenny, and now another one.

“Neither one is bigger than the other. The one you are in at the time is the big one, the one you want to win,” he added.

The 26-year-old is the speed merchant in the Shamrocks attack, the one who can burn off defenders with a burst of frightening pace. When possession comes his way there is always only one thing on his mind - the goal.

“At club and inter-county level I am encouraged to attack, attack at every opportunity,” he said of his part within the teams. “I have been told to take a chance and never be afraid of making a mistake. That approach suits me fine.”

Fennelly and his inter-county colleagues, Michael Fennelly (his brother), T.J. Reid, Joey Holden, Henry Shefflin and Richie Reid may have a busy, busy schedule, but the Army officer wouldn’t want his sporting life any other way.

“We never think about what we might be winning or anything like that,” he said. “Maybe when I am 35 or so and retired I might look back and realise then what has been achieved. Now? Not interested. We all live in the moment.

“We are told to win what we can while we have a good team. That is the intention,” explained the three times senior All-Ireland and National League winner.

But where does the motivation, the hunger to drive on come from?

“Losing,” was the sharp, one word response. “We lost one or two county finals. That really made us step back and think we might not get another chance. The reality of that drives you on.

“We felt we had to win this year (2014). We feel refreshed now. It can be hard going when the club and county are successful, but you enjoy it.

“When you are winning you can’t complain. There are others doing the same work as the likes of me and they are not getting the rewards. I am absolutely delighted to be where I am.”

He had a break of a week or so over Christmas. He got a week off after the All-Ireland club semi-final win over Gort (Galway). That did him.

The minute the club All-Ireland is over he will be ready to get back on duty with Kilkenny.

“You can’t leave an opening there,” he smiled. “Your place would be gone in a second if you did.”

Fennelly’s form may be on a high with club and county, but he is far from satisfied with his lot.

“I am not at the height of my game,” he insisted, although now an established name on the Kilkenny team. “I can push on more. Last year I went to a wall ball to improve an aspect of my game, and I did additional sprint work as well.

“I think I can push on more, with improvements in catching and my first touch. I concentrated on my fitness last year and my striking of the ball. I wanted that to be cleaner, crisper.

“I keep in touch with that. Now I want to improve the first touch. I tend to drop a lot of ball. I don’t win enough in the air. There are different little things to work on the whole time.

“You have to keep challenging yourself. No one has it all. I am not hard on myself. I am happy enough with my game, but I know I can improve.”

The Fennelly name makes its own demands. His father, Michael and six uncles, Liam, Kevin, Brendan, Liam, Sean and Dermot walked the All-Ireland club trail with success.

“It can be something to carry,” he admitted. “You look back and see what your father and uncles achieved. They did so much. I would like to be a winner too.

“Kilmallock have very good players. They are a good hurling team. Our style of play is not a world apart. I think it will be a right good game.

“Kilmallock are good. Of course, we are not too bad. Everyone, 1 to 15, has to put in the effort. We think about our individual responsibility to the team effort, the requirement to work.

“The team has experience, but we will need more than that to win,” he concluded.