Former Saints title-winning captain Conor Kenna joins Leinster Senior League Kilnamanagh

Fri, Jan 10 2020

Kenna in action for Longford Town against Drogheda United in 2019. Credit: Damien Darcy (ETPhotos)

Former St Patrick’s Athletic title-winning captain Conor Kenna has signed up with Leinster Senior League side Kilnamanagh until the summer following his retirement from League of Ireland.

The 35-year-old put a lid on his League of Ireland career after 17 years at the end of last season after helping Longford Town to the First Division play-offs.

Kenna, who also had spells with Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wanderers during a long career at the top level, joins former Hoops teammate Gary McCabe and ex-Seagull Sean Harding at Kilnamanagh.

Other local men in the squad include former Rovers goalkeeper Karl Coleman and ex-Cork City defender Gavin Kavanagh, while Liam Harding has returned from Australia to join brother Sean.

“I was chasing Conor from when he announced his retirement from League of Ireland,” said Kilnamanagh boss Keith Foy.

“He wanted to get his head right himself and see what he wanted to do. It was always in the pipeline.

“It was about giving him a few weeks and letting him have a chat with his family and decide what the best thing was for him to do.

“We came to an agreement that he would like to sign for the rest of the season and see if he enjoys it, and hopefully he will.”

The defender has been director of coaching at Kilnamanagh for the past 12 months and had considered hanging up his boots then before being persuaded to join Longford.

The ex-UCD, Shelbourne and Drogheda United man will finish out the season with his hometown club as they sit fourth in Senior Sunday 1, the second tier of the Leinster Senior League.

The Tallaght club face Swords Celtic in the league on Sunday before travelling to Donegal to face Cockhill Celtic in the last 16 of the FAI Intermediate Cup the following Sunday.

Foy, who himself signed for Kilnamanagh following a successful career with Nottingham Forest, Doncaster Rovers, Pats, Monaghan United and Sligo Rovers, says Kenna is aware of the challenge facing him.

“I remember myself when I came back from the League of Ireland, and it’s happened to one or two lads I have at the moment, it took them a few months to adapt.

“Sometimes people can underestimate how strong the Leinster Senior League is. I have had a chat with him regarding that.

“It’s not going to be a walk in the park for him, but obviously if he applies himself like he can, and I have no doubt he will because he’s the ultimate professional, he won’t have a problem with it.”

Foy feels the professional experience of likes of McCabe, brother of Republic of Ireland captain and Arsenal winger Katie, and Kenna can only benefit the club from top to bottom.

The club's current golden generation may be ending the latter stages of their careers but the hope is the next generation of Tallaght footballers won't be far behind.

He adds: “We’re lucky enough that the Kilnamanagh team has a lot of players, the likes of Conor, the Hardings, the Colemans, the Kavanaghs, who have played at League of Ireland level.

“They’re all sort of in their early 30s and they’ve had enough playing League of Ireland and luckily enough I was able to convince a lot of them to come back and play for their local club.

“It’s excellent for the area and for the club, in terms of schoolboy lads who know a lot of them, it’s great for them to see first-hand how they train and how they apply themselves.”