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Recognition for Hoey at high-profile testimonial

Wednesday, 26th September, 2018 4:22pm

Local football legend Kenneth Hoey will be honoured this weekend with a testimonial match celebrating his long and successful career.

On 29 September, the FAI and Rockmount AFC will come together to host the match that will see a selection of Irish amateur national players take on Kenneth’s long term club Rockmount AFC at Turner’s Cross in Cork City.

The match will kick off at 5pm and is open to all with tickets costing €5 for adults. Children are free of charge.

Speaking to the Cork Independent about the upcoming testimonial, Hoey said: “It’s good to be recognised alright, but the build up to it is getting a bit nerve-wracking.”

Hoey, who works for An Post, has been the driving force behind Rockmount AFC’s success spanning the last 17 years, winning five Munster Senior Leagues, two Intermediate cups, five O’Connell Cups, three Keane Cups, one Beamish Cup and two Donnie Ford Cups.

Hoey was a football player from a young age and says he never really took to any other sports as he was growing up. “I was kind of playing GAA but I was just dipping in and out of that, I didn’t take it too seriously and didn’t give much time for training,” he said.

The talented defender has also won four Michael Ward Inter-League Cups with the Munster Senior League (MSL) selection and has one MSL Player of the Year award to his name.

It didn’t take too long for Hoey’s performances to garner national attention, and in 2004 he received the call that all young footballers dream of when Gerry Smith, manager of the Irish Amateur National Team, awarded Kenneth his first international Cap against Northern Ireland.

“We were playing up in Dublin and I was pulled aside by a lad who was already on the Irish team and he told me there are a few lads here looking for a centre back for the national team. The next week then I got a call saying I should travel to the next (international) game,” said Kenneth.

He went on to be capped 64 times for Ireland, donning the coveted captain’s arm band a total of 20 times before finally calling it a day and hanging up his international boots after the Regions Cup in 2017

Asked how he felt about the current standards of Irish football, Hoey said: “There are good players around but I think the standard overall dipped a bit compared to when I started. It was fierce competitive back then. It feels like it’s not as tough anymore, and not just the Munster Senior League, but the League of Ireland as well. It seems that the players just aren’t out there.

“The young fellas are probably staying at home during the week watching Champions League instead of going out training,” he added.

A major career highlight came In 2015 when Hoey captained Ireland to its first ever Regional Cup win when they overcame the best of European amateur football talent to be crowned deserved champions.

"As a group, yeah, the Regions Cup was a highlight, especially to do it on my first year as captain, but on a personal level, the biggest highlight would have been getting the three FAI Player of the Year awards," he adds.

Kenneth has won the FAI intermediate player of the year award on three separate occasions, in 2006, 2009 and 2015.

Asked if he had any advice for young footballers starting out, Hoey said: “Just keep your head down anyway. Keep working hard. Do your club training but make sure you train on your own time as well.”

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