Ewan McKenna: How the runt of Irish rugby’s litter became a real player

Kelly retired in 2012, but his one-time thankless work remains

3rd April, 2016
Connacht Rugby supporters protested IRFU plans to save money by winding up their province in 2003 Picture: Rollingnews.ie

Gerry Kelly thought he knew what he was getting into. This was Connacht after all, where hell often seemed a better option when it came to rugby and, besides, he’d been around the scene long enough before he took over as chief executive in 1999. But just months into his tenure the whispers started that quickly turned to talk.

The IRFU were cash-strapped. Three pro teams would be stronger. Stone walls and oval balls...

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