SEAMUS HARNEDY IS around long enough to have played alongside Cork’s latest addition to their backroom team, Tom Kenny. 

Seamus Harnedy in action against Clare in the Munster SHC.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Kenny won two All-Ireland medals and three Munster titles during an illustrious career with the Rebels and manager John Meyler officially brought him on board in a coaching capacity last month.

Harnedy enjoyed his breakthrough campaign as a 22-year-old in 2013 where he played at half-forward in front of Kenny, who was in his final season with the Rebels.

A series of barnstorming displays for the Rebels on their run to the All-Ireland final that summer saw the St Ita’s club man collect an All-Star award. He looks back fondly on his time playing on the same flank as defender Kenny, who retired after their replay defeat to Clare.

“My debut season I was playing on the same wing as Tom,” said Harnedy at the All-Ireland SHC series national launch at Mungret St Pauls GAA Club in Limerick.

“I’m probably showing my age there but he’s a very good guy. He was a great defender. A very professional guy – goes about his business and is very good on the defensive side of things. He’s a great addition and he’s a good guy to have around the dressing room as well. 

“Tom is just an ultra-professional guy with his experience. He’s brilliant and he’s worked with an awful lot of the young lads in UCC as well so he’s a vast amount of coaching experience now. 

“He’s been there, done that and if we can tap into any of his experience at all, it’ll be brilliant. His demeanour and his professionalism around training grounds, he’s a guy you can learn a lot from.” 

Tom Kenny during his final year with Cork in 2013.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Fresh from dispatching 1-40 against Westmeath last weekend, Cork face an altogether different prospect against Kilkenny on Sunday. 

“That bodes well,” he says of their scoreline against the Lake County.

“We had very little wides so that was something that was very encouraging. There was opportunities there as well, we only got one goal so that’s something to work on.

“There’s other tweaks and improvements that we’ll have to make but we were asked to deliver a performance last Sunday. That was positive and encouraging.

“Getting (Alan) Cadogan back this year is a huge asset, the likes of (Conor) Lehane and Hoggy (Patrick Horgan) and Shane Kingston, they’re great lads to work with.

“There’s some fantastic other players as well and we’re all pushing each other for jerseys and that’s what it’s all about but it is really enjoyable to be part of. It’s enjoyable but we have an onus on us to defend as well.” 

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The Cats are hurting following their Leinster final defeat to Wexford and Harnedy expects a backlash from Brian Cody’s side.

“After a defeat, you always expect a reaction out of our team. When we lost to Tipperary, we wanted the next game to come as quick as possible and react against Limerick and then you need to back that up with another performance against Waterford like we did. 

“You’re always looking for the next game and probably this game can’t come quick enough for the Kilkenny lads. 

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“We obviously know what they possess and they’re a great team, a team that we have serious respect for. 

“Every year when you play them in the Allianz Leagues, they’re a savage working team.

Harnedy at the All-Ireland SHC series national launch.

Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

“When TJ Reid and the other players, Cillian Buckley, Eoin Murphy, they’re serious players and they’ve lots of All Ireland medals and lots of experience so you know what you’re going to get.

“It’s going to be a tight, tenacious, tough battle and there will be nothing given easy. That’s what we’re expecting and with that calibre of player they can hurt you.” 

Cork have lost consecutive All-Ireland semi-finals at Croke Park, while they haven’t been victorious in their last five championship matches there. It’s a run that stretches back to 2013, but Harnedy feels it’s of little significance heading into this weekend.

“It’s a new year. We have to take the learnings from last year. I think we performed really, really well for probably 65 minutes last year and just came undone towards the end of it and just shot a few wides.

“Obviously I’d the goal chance towards the end. So there’s something you have to learn, but I thought we performed really, really well. You just saw what Limerick went on and achieved afterwards and the year they had.

“So, a lot of these players on our panel haven’t played in Croke Park too much so it’s a great opportunity for them. Every player wants to play in Croke Park so that’s a serious opportunity for us.”

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