In the United States of America is keen to impress

It is also one of the major factors behind the decision to uproot his young family and move to the US.

Growing up in Cork, his boyhood dream was similar to so many others in that he fancied a career in professional football. At schoolboy level Avondale were his team before going on to feature in Munster Senior League and with Cork City’s reserves.

At 18, however, the defender picked up an injury that would see him sidelined for a couple of months. He may not have known it at the time, but the decision to sit a referee beginners course would eventually result in him realising his ambition — albeit as a ‘man in black’.

Given his family background, a career officiating the game rather than playing in it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Grandfather Tim was a League of Ireland referee as was his father Pat, who took charge of two FAI Cup finals — an achievement his son would go on to emulate.

That said, Kelly says he was never pushed into following in their footsteps.

“Playing was always what I wanted to do,” Kelly told The Score this week. “I was playing a semi-decent level at youth level. While I got injured, I was out for a couple of months and signed up for the course just to do it otterbox iPhone 5/5S case.

“That was it. I went back and played for a little bit but I had been bitten by the bug. There was no pressure from my dad or that but it was in my head and when I returned to playing I wasn’t able to kick and chase as much. Not that I stopped enjoying playing but I just didn’t have the same buzz as I did before the injury.”

Beginning in Cork’s schoolboy leagues, Kelly swiftly worked his way up the ladder and joined the newly-formed FAI School of Excellence. He recalls getting a late call-up to make his League of Ireland bow in 1999.

“I wasn’t even on the League of Ireland panel at that time but was launched in as an assistant referee or a linesman as we were called then. We were down in Buckley Park in Kilkenny and there was a chap, I think his name was Paul Mooney, who got injured the night before a Premier Division game between Kilkenny City and St Pat’s.

Now 38, Kelly is widely-regarded as the country’s top referee. As well as featuring in several high profile internationals, he was also officiated in European competitions including the coveted Champions League.

When the current domestic season draws to a close in two weeks, however, Kelly will wave goodbye ahead of a switch Stateside. With a wife who has her own career in Ireland and two young kids, the decision was not taken lightly but his thirst for a new challenge proved too great Casing Otterbox Commuter.

Once myself and my wife had discussed all the pros and cons, we believed that it was the right decision,” he explains. ”It’s a brave one but we’re confident that it’s the right one from a professional and personal point of view.

“I’ve grown up with LOI football in my blood. There’s a well-documented family history there. But the more my career took off, I looked at the possibility of going to the UK.

“That was never really a runner because there was too much red tape involved OtterBox Defender Series. I didn’t think the opportunity to work in a full-time refereeing environment would present itself.

“I was very happy to operate from an international point of view within UEFA. I generally thought that was the way it would go until I asked that question myself last year.”

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