Michael Fennelly (hurler)

Michael Fennelly
Personal information
Irish name Micheál Ó Fionnalaigh
Sport Hurling
Position Right wing-forward
Born (1985-02-28) 28 February 1985
Ballyhale, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Occupation Lecturer
Years Club
2003– Ballyhale Shamrocks
Club titles
Kilkenny titles 6
Leinster titles 4
All-Ireland Titles 3
Years County Apps (scores)
2006–present Kilkenny 30 (1–29)
Inter-county titles
Leinster titles 9
All-Irelands 8
All Stars 3
*Inter County team apps and scores correct as of 22:50, 7 September 2015.

Michael Fennelly (born 28 February 1985) is an Irish hurler who currently plays as a right wing-forward for the Kilkenny senior team.[1]

Born in Ballyhale, County Kilkenny, Fennelly first excelled at hurling during his tenure at Scoil Aireagail. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen when he first linked up with the Kilkenny minor team before later joining the under-21 side. He joined the senior panel during the 2006 league. Fennelly has since become a key member of the team and has won six All-Ireland medals, four Leinster medals and four National Hurling League medals. The All-Ireland-winning captain of 2009, he has been an All-Ireland runner-up on one occasion.

As a member of the Leinster inter-provincial team on a number of occasions, Fennelly has won one Railway Cup medal. At club level he is a three-time All-Ireland medallist with Ballyhale Shamrocks. In addition to this he has also won four Leinster medals and six championship medals.

Fennelly's uncles, Ger, Kevin and Liam, and his brother, Colin, have won ten All-Ireland medals between them with Kilkenny.

Fennelly has been described as one of Kilkenny's most important players.[2] In 2010 he won the first of three All-Star awards, while in 2011 he made a clean sweep of all the top individual awards, winning the All-Star and Texaco Hurler of the Year awards.

Playing career


rmuch success at underage levels, including four successive under-21 championships, Fennelly quickly joined the Ballyhale Shamrocks senior team. Two years later he was deployed further out the field as Ballyhale faced O'Loughlin Gaels in the senior decider. An impressive 1–22 to 2–11 victory gave Fennelly his first championship medal.[3] He later added a Leinster medal to his collection when Ballyhale secured a comprehensive 1–20 to 1–8 defeat of Birr to take the provincial title for the first time in seventeen years.[4] On 17 March 2007 Ballyhale Shamrocks faced Loughrea in the All-Ireland decider. On a day when Henry Shefflin and James "Cha" Fitzpatrick were held scoreless, the three Reid brothers contributed 3–7 from play. A 3–12 to 2–8 victory gave Fennelly a coveted All-Ireland medal.[5]

Fennelly added a second championship medal to his collection in 2007 following a 1–20 to 1–10 drubbing of St. Martin's.[6]

Ballyhale Shamrocks made it three-in-a-row in 2008. A 2–11 to 0–12 defeat of James Stephens gave Fennelly a third successive championship medal.[7] He later won a second Leinster medal as the Shamrocks defeated reigning champions Birr by 2–13 to 1–11.[8]

Fennelly won a fourth successive championship medal in 2009, as Ballyhale claimed a record-equaling four-in-a-row following a 1–14 to 1–11 defeat of James Stephens once again.[9] The subsequent provincial decider saw Ballyhale hit fifteen wides, however, Fennelly still collected a third Leinster medal following a 1–16 to 1–8 defeat of Tullamore.[10] On 17 March 2010 Ballyhale faced three-in-a-row Portumna in a "dream" All-Ireland decider. The game failed to live up to the billing, however, 1–19 to 0–17 victory gave Fennelly a second All-Ireland medal.[11]

Five-in-a-row proved beyond Ballyhale Shamrocks, however, the team bounced back in 2012 having lost the championship decider the previous year. A far from vintage 0–16 to 0–12 defeat of Dicksboro gave Fennelly a fifth championship medal.[12]

Fennelly won a sixth championship medal in 2014 as the Shamrocks claimed a 1–20 to 1–13 defeat of reigning champions Clara.[13] Fennelly later collected a fourth Leinster medal as veteran Henry Shefflin proved the difference in a 0–21 to 1–14 defeat of Kilcormacv/Killoughey.[14] On 17 March 2015 Ballyhale faced Kilmallock in the All-Ireland decider. A complete mismatch saw Shamrocks win the game by 1–18 to 1–6, with Fennelly collecting a third All-Ireland medal.[15]

Minor and under-21

Fennelly first played for Kilkenny in 2003 when he joined the minor side. He won his sole Leinster medal that year following an 0–18 to 0–13 defeat of Offaly.[16] Kilkenny subsequently faced Galway in the All-Ireland decider. Richie Power gave a masterclass of hurling, including scoring the winning point deep into injury time. A 2–16 to 2–15 victory gave Fennelly a coveted All-Ireland medal.[17]

The following year Fennelly collected a Leinster medal as a member of the under-21 team, as Wexford were downed by 0–16 to 2–3. The subsequent All-Ireland final between Kilkenny and old rivals Tipperary was a total mismatch. "The Cats" scored key goals early in the opening half, which helped power them to a 3–21 to 1–6 victory.[18] It was Fennelly's first All-Ireland medal.

Fennelly added a second Leinster medal to his collection in 2005, following a 0–17 to 1–10 defeat of Dublin.[19] Kilkenny's bid for a third successive All-Ireland title ended in dramatic fashion as a late point from Kerril Wade handed Galway a narrow 1–15 to 1–14 victory.[20]

For the third successive year Fennelly won a Leinster medal following a 2–18 to 2–10 defeat of Dublin before later lining out in the All-Ireland decider against Tipperary. A last second opportunist goal by Richie Hogan saved Kilkenny and secured a 2–14 apiece draw.[21] The replay was another close encounter, however, Paddy Hogan's first half goal helped Kilkenny claw their way to the title following a 1–11 to 0–11 defeat of Tipperary.[22] It was Fennelly's second All-Ireland medal.



While still a member of the under-21 team, Fennelly was added to the Kilkenny senior panel in 2006. He made his debut during the National Hurling League, and subsequently collected his first winners' medal following a 3–11 to 0–14 victory over Limerick.[23] On 2 July 2006 he made his senior championship debut in a facile 1–23 to 2–12 provincial final defeat of Wexford.[24] It was his first Leinster medal. Fennelly later shared in Kilkenny's All-Ireland defeat of Cork as a non-playing substitute.[25]

Fennelly collected a second Leinster medal in 2007, as Kilkenny asserted their provincial dominance and defeated Wexford by 2–24 to 1–12.[26] On 2 September 2007 Kilkenny faced defeated Munster finalists and surprise All-Ireland semi-final winners Limerick in the championship decider. Kilkenny got off to a flying start with Eddie Brennan and Henry Shefflin scoring two goals within the first ten minutes to set the tone. Limerick launched a second-half comeback, however, "the Cats" were too powerful and cruised to a 2–19 to 1–15 victory.[27] Fennelly, who started the game on the bench, came on to collect his first All-Ireland medal on the field of play.

On and off the team

In 2008 Fennelly broke his wrist in a club game which ruled him out of the latter stages of the provincial championship.[28] He was back as an unused substitute as Kilkenny later claimed a third successive All-Ireland title following a 3–30 to 1–13 defeat of Waterford.[29]

Fennelly was appointed captain of the team in 2009, however, he found it difficult to claim a place on the starting fifteen.[30][31] On 6 September Kilkenny were poised to become the second team ever in the history of hurling to win four successive All-Ireland championships when they faced Tipperary in the decider. Fennelly, in spite of being captain, started the game on the bench before being introduced as a late substitute. For long periods Tipp looked the likely winners, however, late goals from Henry Shefflin and substitute Martin Comerford finally killed off their efforts to secure a 2–22 to 0–23 victory.[32] Fennelly had collected his second All-Ireland medal on the field of play, while he also had the honour of lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

In 2010 Kilkenny defeated Galway in an eagerly-anticipated but ultimately disappointing provincial decider. A 1–19 to 1–12 victory gave Fennelly a third Leinster medal.[33] The drive for a fifth successive All-Ireland crown reached a head on 5 September 2010, when Kilkenny faced Tipperary in the All-Ireland decider. "The Cats" lost talisman Henry Shefflin due to injury, while Tipperary's Lar Corbett ran riot and scored a hat-trick of goals as Fennelly's side fell to a 4–17 to 1–18 defeat.[34] In spite of this defeat, Fennelly later won his first All-Star award.[35]

Continued dominance

Kilkenny's stranglehold in Leinster continued in 2011. A 4–17 to 1–15 defeat of Dublin gave "the Cats" a record-equalling seventh successive championship.[36] It was Fennelly's fourth winners' medal overall. Kilkenny subsequently faced Tipperary in a record-breaking sixth successive All-Ireland decider on 4 September 2011. Goals by Fennelly and Richie Hogan in either half gave Kilkenny, who many viewed as the underdogs going into the game, a 2–17 to 1–16 victory.[37] It was Fennelly's third All-Ireland medal, while he later collected a second consecutive All-Star and two Hurler of the Year accolades.[38]

2012 began well for Fennelly when he collected a second league medal following a 3–21 to 0–16 demolition of old rivals Cork.[39] Kilkenny were later shocked by Galway in the Leinster decider, losing by 2–21 to 2–11, however, both sides subsequently met in the All-Ireland decider on 9 September 2012.[40] Kilkenny had led goining into the final stretch, however, Joe Canning struck a stoppage time equaliser to level the game at 2–13 to 0–19 and send the final to a replay for the first time since 1959.[41] The replay took place three weeks later on 30 September 2012. Galway stunned the reigning champions with two first-half goals, however, Kilkenny's championship debutant Walter Walsh gave a man of the match performance, claiming a 1–3 haul. The 3–22 to 3–11 Kilkenny victory gave Fennelly a fourth All-Ireland medal.[42]

Kilkenny's dominance showed no sign of abating in 2013, Fennelly winning a third National League medal following a 2–17 to 0–20 defeat of Tipperary in the decider.[43]

In 2014 Fennelly collected his fourth league medal, as Kilkenny secured a narrow one-point 2–25 to 1–27 extra-time victory over Tipperary.[44] He missed much of the provincial campaign but was restored to the starting fifteen on 7 September 2014 when Kilkenny faced Tipperary in the All-Ireland decider. In what some consider to be the greatest game of all-time, the sides were level when Tipperary were awarded a controversial free. John O'Dwyer had the chance to win the game, however, his late free drifted wide resulting in a draw.[45] The replay on 27 September 2014 was also a close affair. Goals from brothers Richie and John Power inspired Kilkenny to a 2–17 to 2–14 victory.[46] It was Fennelly's fifth All-Ireland medal.

An ongoing back injury hindered Fennelly's championship campaign in 2015, resulting in him missing Kilkenny's 1-25 to 2-15 defeat of Galway in the provincial decider.[47] Fennelly fought his way back to full fitness as Kilkenny subsequently renewed their rivalry with Galway in the All-Ireland decider on 6 September 2015. The team struggled in the first half, however, a T. J. Reid goal and a dominant second half display, which limited Galway to just 1-4, saw Kilkenny power to a 1-22 to 1-18 victory.[48] The victory gave Fennelly a sixth All-Ireland medal while he was also chosen as the man of the match.

On 13 August 2016, it was confirmed that Fennelly would miss the 2016 All-Ireland final after he ruptured his achilles tendon in the semi-final replay victory over Waterford.[49]


After a two-year hiatus and a period of uncertainty surrounding the competition, the Railway Cup returned in 2012 with Fennelly starting at midfield as Leinster faced Connacht in the decider. The game was effectively over at half time, with Leinster powering to an eventual 2–19 to 1–15 victory.[50]

Personal life

Born in Ballyhale, County Kilkenny, Fennelly is the member of a famous hurling dynasty in the locality. His grandfather, Kevin Fennely, Snr, played with Kilkenny in the 1940s before later becoming heavily involved in the establishment of Ballyhale Shamrocks in 1972. His father, Mick, and his six uncles, Brendan, Ger, Kevin, Liam, Seán and Dermot, all played with the Shamrocks with several of them playing for Kilkenny at all levels.

Fenenlly was educated at the local national school before later completing his Leaving Certificate at Scoil Aireagail. He subsequently completed a degree in business studies at the Cork Institute of Technology, before later becoming a bank official with Ulster Bank.

In 2012 Fennelly left his banking job and completed a one-year MSC in Sports Performance at the University of Limerick. After a three-month internship with the Sydney Swans, Fennelly subsequently took a position as a lecturer with Setanta College. He is currently a lecturer in nutrition at Limerick Institute of Technology.[51]



Ballyhale Shamrocks



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