Sky Sports speak to well-known Limerick 'hardman' during Big Sam tribute

NewsBy Sunday World
Anthony Kelly
Anthony Kelly

BOSSES at Sky Sports have been left red-faced after they featured a well-known Limerick 'hardman' in a tribute to new England manager Sam Allardyce.

The sports channel broadcast a package by their news team on Allardyce - a former Limerick FC manager - over the weekend, which included interviews with former players and staff.

However, eyebrows have been raised about the decision to interview Anthony Kelly in the report.

Described on the Sky Sports report as a “Limerick fan”, Kelly (55)  is well-known in Limerick and has a criminal background.

The Sky report told the story of how new England boss Sam Allardyce started his managerial career at Limerick FC more than 25 years ago.

At the time the club's chairman, Fr Joe Young, decided to give Allardyce his shot on the managerial ladder.

His management style had an instant impact on the club and they finished first in their division to gain promotion to the top tier of Irish football in the 1991/92 season.

In the report, Sky Sports interviewed a range of people connected to Allardyce – including former assistant manager Billy Kinnane and the club owner.

However, in the middle of the report, Kelly, known across Limerick city, makes an appearance.

Celebrating Allardyce’s appointment, Kelly expresses his delight for the new England boss.

“He was a very good motivator and brought the very best out of them,” Kelly told Sky Sports of Big Sam’s time on Shannonside.

“When they (Limerick) got promotion it was like winning the Premier League for him,” he added.

Known as a ‘Hardman’, Kelly has been investigated by the gardaí in connection with a number of investigations.

More than 30 years ago, Kelly was acquitted of killing Limerick brothers Thomas and Sammy McCarthy in a row at a pub at Thomondgate on December 12, 1982.

Kelly has survived a number of assassination attempts on his life, including a hit when he was shot five times from a semi-automatic handgun. He made a full recovery.

His brother and Limerick City Councillor Michael Kelly was also investigated by gardaí for alleged interference with the course of justice, but no prosecution arose.

Michael Kelly died in June 2004, four weeks after he was found with a gunshot wound to the head at his mother’s home.

Despite claims by Anthony Kelly and other family members that he was murdered, gardaí ruled out any foul play in his dead. Anthony even had his brother’s coffin and remains exhumed to prove that no gun had been buried with his brother.

In 2005, Kelly survived at least three gun attacks on his life.

He has publicly admitted to having convictions for a public order offence, illegal tobacco and relating to the operation of a shebeen.

In 2011, a jury again found him not guilty of possession of a semi-automatic pistol arising from a shooting incident.

“I will say on the record that I will defend myself, my family and my property,” Mr Kelly has said of his hardman reputation.

Sky Sports did not respond to queries.