Already at the age of 18, Matthew Kennedy is a two-time premiership winner with Collingullie-Glenfield Park and it is a feat that he has achieved alongside his three older brothers James, Nick and Daniel that makes him extremely proud.
Tipped to be a high end pick at this year’s AFL Draft held in Adelaide on Tuesday, November 24, you get the feeling that if Kenndy wasn’t such a sure thing, then he would be happy enough rolling around for his local club in 2015, taking up a carpentry apprenticeship and living on the farm, a place he hopes to come back and visit as much as possible.
The well-mannered young football prodigy has prepared himself for living in the city and knows that he will need to get used to it if he is to succeed at the highest level. That city is almost certainly going to be Sydney, as Kennedy along with his good mate Jacob Hopper are expected to be taken inside the top 10, possibly inside the top five with the Giants first two picks. Having been listed as Giants Academy players due to their Riverina zoning, it means that the club has access to them in the same way the father-son bidding system operates.
In simple terms, if another club wants to take Kennedy before GWS have their selection, then the Giants need to bid and pay a higher price to snag them. This year, the AFL has brought in a rather complicated points system, where each pick holds a certain weight. For example, if Essendon signals they wish to take Kennedy at pick five, then GWS have to use more of their points in order to secure him.
Some draft experts believe Kennedy could be the pick of the bunch when it comes to this year’s talent pool. What makes him so appealing is that at 188cm he is the perfect size for the modern prototype footballer, with the running ability and strength to dominate the midfield and enough marking ability to isolate a lesser opponent up forward in the same way Dustin Martin does at Richmond.
And all the hype has come from barely playing a game of football all year, including missing the national under 18 championships mid-season.
Connected to the NSW/ACT Rams program which enables players from NSW to play against quality opposition in Victoria’s TAC Under 18 competition, Kennedy – who played a year of senior football out at ‘Gullie as a 17-year-old – played in the Rams and Giants pre-season, only to miss three months with a medial ligament injury.
The year 12 student from Wagga’s Mater Dei College did come in and play a few important ones late in the season, securing a second Riverina Football League premiership alongside his brothers. In that game against highly fancied Mangoplah-Cookardina United Eastlakes outfit (which included Jock Cornell, another draft prospect from the Riverina), Kennedy was one of the stars of the show, kicking three first-half goals and helping set up the win for his beloved Demons.
Then just a couple of weeks later on the big stage of the MCG on AFL grand final day playing for the Allies v NAB AFL Academy under 17 team (which included Henty’s Harrison Macreadie) the smart footballer shared best-on-ground honours with MCUE junior Harrison Himmelberg. Kennedy kicked a goal and was clean around the contest, collecting 19 touches, seven clearances and having five inside 50s.
Just days out from the draft – Kennedy who is managed by David Trotter (McDonald Sports) a former Lockhart junior who played seven matches with North Melbourne between 2005 and 2007 – will be attending the event at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Tuesday evening at 6.30pm. A whopping 10 clubs came up to visit he and his parents at their Yerong Creek property this year and although slightly nervous about the outcome of the draft, in typical fashion, the young lad from the bush is taking it all in his stride.
“Whatever happens, happens”, he said.