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04th Oct 2016

Paul O’Connell was not pleased with Joe Schmidt’s reaction to his “reckless” Dave Kearney kick

Provincial rivalries

Patrick McCarry

Looking back, three years on, the swipe Paul O’Connell took for the ball – with Dave Kearney’s head in close, close proximity – is as bad as ever.

April 2013 and Leinster’s Dave Kearney took some heat claiming a high ball at Thomond Park. He claimed a box-kick from teammate Isaac Boss, absorbed a hit from Munster’s Felix Jones and was able to present the ball back. For a split second at least.

Munster lock Paul O’Connell thought of only one thing – kicking the ball free from the open Leinster winger. He did not pass much thought for Kearney and that was the problem [video below].

POC D Kearney

Writing about the incident, which briefly rendered Kearney unconscious and ended his season, in his autobiography The Battle, O’Connell gives his version of events.

“I only had eyes for the ball,” he insists. O’Connell realised his actions had been “reckless” but he was not cautioned on the pitch and play continued soon after, with Leinster getting the win.

After the game, O’Connell tried to get an update on his Ireland teammate. He informed Arthur Tanner, the Leinster doctor, that it was his kick that had done the damage to Kearney and says he was told, ‘We know that but don’t worry – we won’t be doing anything’.

O’Connell was thrown by the comment and a text messages of support from Leinster’s Brian O’Driscoll and former Ireland coach Declan Kidney did little to ease his growing sense of apprehension. Comments from Leinster captain Leo Cullen and coach Joe Schmidt, who went on to make O’Connell Ireland captain, were not appreciated. O’Connell writes:

‘[They] gave it enough legs to carry it into the following week. They critcised the decision not to cite me and talked about a bad example being set for children. It was a difficult week.’

O’Connell did eventually get in touch with Kearney, to apologise, but waited until after a decision was made not to cite him. He wanted to make sure his inter-pro rival did not mistake his concern for any effort to ‘curry favour’.

The GAA Hour pays tribute to the unbeatable Dubs and ask where did it all go wrong for Mayo in the All-Ireland final replay. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.

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