Kilnamanagh land big names as Kenna and Harding return

by Stephen Findlater

Kilnamanagh have made two eye-catching signings in the winter transfer window as they look to make it three successive promotions to reach the top tier of the Leinster Senior League.

Former League of Ireland-winning defender Conor Kenna and the well-travelled midfielder Liam Harding have returned to their former schoolboy club as they sit fourth in the Sunday Senior 1 table.

35-year-old Kenna arrives after wrapping up a 17-year League of Ireland career by helping Longford Town to the First Division promotion play-offs.

The defender, who captained St Patrick’s Athletic to the Premier Division title in 2013 and also lined out for Shamrock Rovers, took over as the club’s directory of coaching 12 months ago.

Harding spent several years playing at semi-pro level in Australia with Ballarat City before finishing up with Caroline Springs George Cross last year.

They join a number of former pros in the squad including Harding’s brother Sean, defender Gavin Kavanagh and playmaker Gary McCabe, older brother of Ireland captain Katie.

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

“It was always in the pipeline, but 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.

“Liam’s international clearance is just after getting in there over Christmas. He’s a brother of Sean and has played with Kilnamanagh in the past. He was playing at semi-pro level in Australia.”

Keith Foy’s side returned to winning ways on Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 victory at home to Swords Celtic – their first league win in five games and more than two months.

A goal early in each half for Anthony Haveny, either side of Daniel Cibotar’s equaliser, saw Kilnamanagh lead going into the final minutes.

An own goal, brought about by good pressure from Luke Halpin, made it 3-1 two minutes from the end before Barry Caulfield netted an injury-time consolation for the visitors.

It was a much-needed return to form for the Tallaght side ahead of the weekend’s trip to face a Cockhill side who have won the Ulster Senior League in each of the past seven seasons.

“On a coach it’s a good four-and-a-half-hour journey up, so we have decided to travel up on the Saturday afternoon.

“We’ll stay over at a hotel to make sure we’re preparing properly and give ourselves the best opportunity. It’s not ideal being on a coach for so long and then trying to play a match.”

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