Kennedy, Martin (1898–1983), Tipperary hurler, was born 20 November 1898 in Killnafinch, Co. Tipperary, into the large family of Michael Kennedy, farmer, from Killnafinch, and Mary Kennedy (née Shanahan). He was educated at Latteragh national school until he left school at 14. He initially rose to hurling prominence as a goalkeeper, playing for Borrisoleigh in a county intermediate final in July 1917. In 1919, having travelled with Toomevara as a substitute goalkeeper, he filled in at full-forward and was the star of the match as they beat Boherlahan 6–0 to 3–4. He began his county career as a substitute in that year but it was not until 1922 that he became a regular, when he announced his arrival in a Tipperary jersey by scoring four goals in a Munster championship match against Cork. Tipperary reached the All-Ireland final that year, losing to Kilkenny by two points, with Kennedy having a last-minute attempt at goal deflected over the bar. In 1924 he was the star of a Tipperary team beaten by Galway in an All-Ireland semi-final. He had his revenge in 1925 when Tipperary became champions, beating Galway 5–6 to 1–5 in the final.
In 1927 he was selected on the Irish hurling team in the Tailteann games. He played in Tipperary's first national league winning side in 1928 and won another All-Ireland winners medal in 1930. He set a record of playing in each of the first nine Railway Cup finals with Munster, winning a then record six winners medals (1928–31, 1934–5) and captaining the province to victory in 1931. In 1935 he was still considered good enough to play for Munster, and was the only Tipperary player to be selected that year. After an illness he retired from inter-county hurling in 1936, and turned down an offer to return as goalkeeper the following year, missing Tipperary's 1937 All-Ireland triumph. He continued playing at club level until 1945, and won three county championship medals. After retirement he remained involved with hurling at club and county level, playing a major role in a golden era for Tipperary hurling, serving as a selector for the county team in the period 1951–69. During that time Tipperary reached nine All-Ireland finals, winning six.
Kennedy was unrivalled as a hurler in his day, and many consider him the greatest full-forward of all time. He was unfortunate to be playing during a period when Tipperary's hurling strength was at a comparatively low ebb. His battles with Cork's great full-back Sean Óg Murphy (qv) were legendary, and both players had the highest respect for each other's abilities. At 5 ft 8 in. (1.73 m), and twelve stone (76.2 kg), he was not the biggest of full-forwards, but he made up for that by having good hands, a powerful shot, a ferocious tackle, great distribution, and a quick eye for goal. He was particularly known for his ability to grab crucial goals in tight games. An example of his intelligent approach to the game was his practice of planting feathers at the outer extremities of the defending team's parallelogram to allow him to shoot for goal without looking at the posts. He was a goal-scorer supreme, and was a sensation with the viewing public on Tipperary's tours to North America in 1926 and 1931. In one game against an Offaly selection in New York in 1926, he scored seven goals in an 11–4 to 3–4 victory, and an estimated twenty-seven goals in total on the tour. In spite of all he achieved, he remained a very modest and self-effacing man, a fact that was widely acknowledged by team-mates and opponents alike. In 2000 he was selected as the full-forward on the Tipperary hurling team of the millennium. He died 17 July 1983 at the age of 84.
He married (1935) Ellen Powell, and moved to his wife's parish of Kildangan after their marriage; they had two children.