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Could a GAA kicker like Seánie O’Shea make it in the NFL?



by Adam Moynihan

The path from Kerry to the NFL is not well worn but this week Tadhg Leader is hoping to unearth a local ‘Kicking King’ who has the potential to make it big in American football.

Leader, a former Connacht and USA rugby player, is the man behind Ireland’s Kicking King, a nationwide search to find future American football kickers. Players from all codes including GAA, soccer and rugby are encouraged to enter the contest and see if they have what it takes.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Leader said that while it’s extremely difficult to make it all the way to the NFL, Irish sportspeople have the natural kicking talent to at least give it a go.

“You don’t know unless you try. Just show up. If you can kick a 45 in Gaelic, you’ll probably be pretty handy at this too. And you never know where it might take you.”

The Galway native founded Leader Kicking in 2022 to create a pathway for potential Irish punters and kickers. Under Leader’s guidance, former underage GAA stars Ronan Patterson (Cavan) and Ross Bolger (Laois) have already secured Division 1 scholarships in top US colleges.

Separately, Castleisland man David Shanahan, a former Kerry underage footballer, managed to secure a scholarship at Georgia Tech, where he plays as a punter.


There is an obvious crossover between the kicking skills needed in GAA, rugby and soccer and the kicking skills needed in American football, but there are obvious differences too. Kerry free-taker Seánie O’Shea saw that for himself when he participated in a promotional video for Leader Kicking alongside Galway’s Shane Walsh in 2022.

“Lads find that the distance they’re standing from the ball in Gaelic football versus American football is the biggest struggle,” Leader explained. “I think Seánie stands nine paces off the ball; in American football you have two-and-a-half.

“Thankfully, you don’t need nine steps. It’s just a thing that we’re used to doing [in Ireland]. Once you get a few repetitions of two-and-a-half, you find that it’s the last two steps where you’re generating power. So guys can get over that hurdle quickly.

“The actual art of ball striking is very similar in American football, rugby and Gaelic football. It’s all about your foot angle – like in golf, what does your club face look like? And then how does it transition out of the shot over the yard after impact.”

Jack O’Connor will probably want my head on a plate for even asking the question but I had to know: if someone like Seánie O’Shea gave up Gaelic football and tried to become an NFL kicker, how would he fare?

“In today’s landscape, American football kicking is global,” Leader said. “The standard of competition is really, really high and the level you need to be kicking at is very difficult.

“I think Seánie O’Shea would be capable to compete but he’d probably need months of training to be seriously considered at that level. The raw athleticism and ball striking ability is definitely there. And you know that guys like Seánie can kick under pressure, which is a really good thing to be able to tell American scouts and college coaches.

“But if you want to break into the NFL, there are only 32 people in the world who get to do it, so you can just imagine how competitive that is.”


The Killarney event takes place Friday at 7pm at Killarney Rugby Club and anyone over the age of 15, of any gender, is encouraged to attend. Whether you’re a talented young person or you're a 50-year-old who has a good strike of a ball, all are welcome. Registration costs €20.

The top performers from each regional location will compete in Energia Stadium on August 25 in front of thousands of fans as part of the half-time entertainment for aglobal football showcase, which features teams from across the world.

Ireland’s Kicking King 2023 winner and their plus-one will also get flown to America where they will be put up in a hotel and brought along to a Pittsburgh Steelers game.

But Leader’s ultimate goal is to help young Irish athletes secure a prize far more valuable than a trip abroad: a free ride and a top-class education at a major American college. Do you have what it takes?

Sign up for Ireland’s Kicking King at



Kerry Camogie vow to back players in shorts/skorts controversy



by Adam Moynihan

The Kerry County Board will back their players if they decide to defy the rulebook and wear shorts after officials at the Camogie Association’s National Congress voted to keep the controversial skort.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry Camogie chairperson Ann Marie Russell confirmed that she is fully behind the players, the vast majority of whom want the skort to be binned.

“I know there have been calls for a protest, that they would all go out the first weekend of the championship and wear shorts,” Russell said. “If the players felt that was something they wanted to do, Kerry Camogie would absolutely support them.

“It should be up to the people who it affects. It doesn’t matter to me what the players wear or what they look like. They should be comfortable.”

The punishment for not wearing the correct playing gear is a yellow card which can be followed by a red card for dissent if not rectified.

Players say the skirt-like garment is not comfortable and they were hopeful that it would finally become a thing of the past when the issue was raised at Congress in Kildare last weekend.

However, a motion by Tipperary and Kerry to replace it with shorts was defeated by 64% to 36%. A similar proposal by Great Britain and Meath which would have given players the option to choose between skorts and shorts also fell well short of the two-thirds majority required (55% against, 45% in favour).

Voting was carried out by delegates from the various county boards as well as members of central and provincial councils. The majority of voters were female.

As one of Kerry’s two delegates, Russell confirmed that she voted in line with the players’ wishes, but she fears that delegates from some counties didn’t do likewise.

“Our job as delegates is to speak on behalf of the players and I definitely felt as though that wasn’t reflected by some of the other counties. I don’t know any girl in any age group at any level that goes to training in a skort. That, in itself, should speak volumes to the powers that be. Even the counties that wanted to keep the skorts, there’s no way their girls go training in skorts. I know they don’t.

“When camogie first started, women weren’t allowed to wear pants, so they had no choice but to wear skirts. They were longer at the time and things have evolved since then. The design is better. But there is a misconception that there are shorts underneath the skirts so ‘what’s the big deal?’ They’re not shorts, they’re compression shorts. That’s not the same thing.

“And look, I’m not wearing the skorts so it doesn’t matter to me. You have to listen to the players. That’s what I feel.

“We’re making decisions that really have little relevance to us, so we really have to take our players’ opinions into it. I’m not sure how many delegates go back and ask their players about these motions before they vote on them.”

Also speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry senior player Niamh Leen outlined the specific issues players have with the skort.

“If you went around the country, I guarantee you that you’d only find a handful of girls actually training in a skort,” the Clanmaurice woman said. “I’ve never been to a training session where someone was wearing a skort. We’re all in shorts.

“The practical side of it is that they’re really uncomfortable. They’re constantly rising up and I spend the majority of the match pulling the skort down instead of concentrating on the game. It shouldn’t be that way.”

According to Leen, the discomfort felt by players is not just physical. There is also a psychological discomfort involved.

“I am very paranoid about the skort, especially the length. You spend a lot of time bending over to pick up the ball and I am conscious of it. Even if you size up, it’s still too short. The only way to counteract it is to wear Skins (base layer) underneath which I don’t really like doing because that’s not overly comfortable either.

“It should be a players’ vote at the end of the day. We’re the ones who actually have to wear them and we should be the ones having the say. But, unfortunately, it’s not up to us.

“It’s very, very annoying. I could use harsher words but it is just frustrating, you know? We’ve wanted this motion to be passed for so many years.

“Nobody I know likes playing in a skort and it’s frustrating that our own organisation aren’t taking the players into account.”

This is not the first time a proposal to replace the skort has been rejected and players will have to wait another three years for the next Congress to try to alter the rules on an official basis.

Leen believes that she and her colleagues should not have to wait that long and questions the reasoning of those delegates who voted to keep the status quo.

“Honestly, I think it’s to keep the tradition and to keep us unique, and maybe they see the skorts as being more feminine, which is just mind-boggling for me. I just don’t understand how that could be a reason to keep something that’s making girls uncomfortable.

“I understand that it’s the tradition, but sometimes traditions have to move on.”


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MATCH PREVIEW: Kerry name strong team for league final showdown with Armagh



by Adam Moynihan

Lidl National League Division 1 Final

Kerry v Armagh

Sunday 3pm

Croke Park

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies return to Croke Park on Sunday hoping to retain their Division 1 crown and managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long have named a strong-looking line-up for their battle against Armagh.

Kerry mostly used the league for experimenting but they still managed to win five of their seven matches, enough to secure a top two finish.

Now almost all of The Kingdom’s big hitters are back in play, as evidenced by the team they have selected for this weekend’s Division 1 decider at HQ.

Eleven members of the side that lost to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final have been selected to start against Armagh. The four “new” starters are goalkeeper Mary Ellen Bolger, full back Deirdre Kearney, midfielder Mary O’Connell and full forward Emma Dineen.

Dineen has rejoined the panel following a spell abroad and has slotted seamlessly into Kerry’s full forward line. She will be flanked by Footballer of the Year Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and the skilful Hannah O’Donoghue, who scored 1-2 against Galway a fortnight ago.

The only really notable absentee – apart from veterans like Emma Costello and Louise Galvin who haven’t yet featured for the team in 2024 – is Síofra O’Shea. The dynamic attacker, who heroically came off the bench in last year’s All-Ireland despite damaging her ACL in the lead-up to the game, is still rehabbing that serious injury.

Meanwhile, the return of All-Star defender Cáit Lynch bolsters Kerry’s back six. The Castleisland Desmonds woman has been used sparingly so far this year and she came on at half-time in that final regulation league game versus Galway.

Quill and Long are likely to call on substitutes Amy Harrington and Danielle O’Leary to make an impact if and when required.

Kerry’s sole loss in the league came at the hands of their final opponents, Armagh, who are looking to emulate what The Kingdom achieved last season by winning Division 1 at the first attempt after gaining promotion from Division 2 the previous season.

The Orchard County beat Kerry by 3-14 to 1-13 at the Athletic Grounds just over a month ago.

They flew through the regular phase of the 2024 competition, winning six games in a row before losing to Dublin in Round 7 with many key players being rested.

Star forward Aimee Mackin has been in blistering form. She has racked up 6-21 (4-15 from play) to date, including 2-6 (1-6 from play) in that meeting between the eventual finalists in March.

Armagh had not yet named their team for the final as this article was being published.

This match forms part of a double header with the Division 2 final between Kildare and Tyrone (1pm). Both games will be televised live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh:

1. Mary Ellen Bolger (Southern Gaels)

2. Cáit Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

3. Deirdre Kearney (Na Gaeil)

4. Eilís Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

5. Aishling O’Connell (Scartaglin)

6. Ciara Murphy (MKL Gaels)

7. Kayleigh Cronin (Dr Crokes)

8. Mary O’Connell (Na Gaeil)

9. Anna Galvin (Southern Gaels)

10. Niamh Carmody (Captain – Finuge/St Senan’s)

11. Niamh Ní Chonchúir (Corca Dhuibhne)

12. Lorraine Scanlon (Castleisland Desmonds)

13. Hannah O’Donoghue (Beaufort)

14. Emma Dineen (Glenflesk)

15. Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Corca Dhuibhne)

Subs: Ciara Butler, Danielle O’Leary, Amy Harrington, Ciara McCarthy, Ciara O’Brien, Katie Brosnan, Aoife Dillane, Bríd O’Connor, Kate O’Sullivan, Eilís O’Connor, Fay O’Donoghue, Jess Gill, Róisín Smith, Siobhán Burns, Keri-Ann Hanrahan.

Follow Adam on Twitter/X for all the latest updates from the Ladies Division 1 final at Croke Park


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