Hurling & Camogie

Practice makes almost perfect for Tyrone hurler Aidy Kelly

The Carrickmore man is gunning for Donegal after a superb 18-point haul against Wicklow

Aidan Kelly
Aidan Kelly Aidan Kelly of Tyrone in action against David Maloney of Wicklow during last weekend's Allianz Hurling League meeting in Dungannon. Kelly finished the game with 18 points to his name Picture: Oliver McVeigh (Oliver McVeigh)

PRACTICE makes for the perfect connection of ash on leather – well, almost perfect.

Aidy Kelly aimed 19 shots at the posts, and finished with a remarkable 18-point haul as Tyrone secured their place in hurling’s restructured Division Two for 2025, beating Wicklow by 1-29 to 2-17.

The Éire Óg clubman has refined his art through hours of preparation as he hones accuracy in alignment with crisp striking of the sliotar.

And Kelly’s eye was in at the Eoghan Ruadh hurling grounds in Dungannon as his deadly finishing powered the Red Hands to a Division 2B semi-final clash with Donegal.

“I came to the pitch before the match and I hit 12 frees and put 11 of them over. I missed one, and then I missed one at the start of the first half,” said Kelly.

“Noel Brick (sports psychologist) has been doing a lot of work with us about positive thinking, focusing on the next ball, so I was always thinking about the next ball and I’m delighted that they all went over after that.

“We like to practise before training up in Garvaghey, I have been practising for years.

“I’m not a polished model by any means, but I have to keep practising.

“Our team ethos is for forwards to practise before every session, and that’s what we do.”

Kelly revealed that the preparations for the game centred on a week of soul-searching following a disappointing second half collapse at Ruislip as Tyrone slumped to defeat to London seven says earlier.

“This team had a tough week. We went to London last week, and we were so disappointed with our second half performance.

“It was a tough journey back from London because we knew we could have beaten them, we were a better team than London.

“We had meetings on Tuesday after training, and we said ‘boys, we need to go better’.

“We have a lot of soul-searching done this week, and we had a real chip on our shoulder. We beat a Wicklow team that we have never beaten before and we gained promotion. Now we have a semi-final as well, we could still win this League.”

The 32-year-old returned to the Red Hand fold two years ago after missing three seasons, and was persuaded by then-manager Michael McShane to abandon plans to go back to Australia where he had been living.

“I went to Melbourne for three years to get out and see a bit of the world,” said Kelly.

“I came home Christmas two years ago and I was supposed to return to Melbourne, but Mickey McShane persuaded me to stay. But I wanted to stay and I have never looked back.

“It was totally the hurling that kept me at home. I had a great life over there and great friends and all the rest, but hurling was always there in the back of my mind and I love it.

“I’ll be 33 in June, but I want to keep going because I love this team and I love what we do.”

Tyrone and Donegal shared the points when they met a couple of weeks ago and Kelly expects Saturday’s semi-final to be another closely-fought Ulster derby.

“Since I started my senior hurling career, we have played Donegal every year and there’s nothing between us,” he added.

“We got a draw the last time and this one will be equally as tight, but we’ll look forward and we’re delighted to be in that semi-final position.”

Allianz Hurling League semi-finals

Saturday, March 23

Division 1 Limerick v Kilkenny (Supervalu Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 4.30pm, live on TG4)

Division 2A Laois v Down (Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 3.30pm)

Division 2B Donegal v Tyrone (O’Donnell Park, 1pm)

Division 3A Sligo v Cavan (Markiewicz Park, 2pm)

Division 3B Longford v Warwickshire (Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 3.30pm)

Sunday, March 24

Division 1 Clare v Tipperary (Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 4pm, live on TG4)