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MacArthur's Tom Kelleher ready for last game

MacArthur High School's Tom Kelleher looks on during

MacArthur High School's Tom Kelleher looks on during practice for the 18th annual Empire Challenge. (June 17, 2013) (Credit: Marcus Henry)

It’s never easy giving up something that you’ve been a part of for much of your life.

That’s exactly with MacArthur’s Tom Kelleher has been experiencing lately. Kelleher, a Thorpe Award finalist, will forgo a college football career to play baseball at Seton Hall.

“I’m really upset about it, but I’m just coming out here trying to have fun and hoping for a win,” said Kelleher, who will line up at wide receiver in the 18th Annual United Health Care Empire Challenge at Hofstra on Tuesday night.

Deciding to play baseball turned about to be an easy decision for Kelleher, who said he received interest from colleges to play football, but didn’t get any scholarship offers.

His baseball scholarship notwithstanding, football has always been his top priority.

“It’s my first love,” said Kelleher, who will play shortstop for the Pirates. “It’s going to be tough to give up, but I’ll get through it.”

Kelleher doesn’t plan on forgetting the experience and said he will cherish the memories. “I’ve been wanting to play in this game since I was a little kid,” he said. “So I’m just going to have fun and play my last game.”

Being announced in front of a raucous crowd that figures to number 10,000 or more, being treated like professional athletes is the way Kelleher said he wants to go oiut.

“It’s just a dream come true. To play in this game is an honor,” Kelleher said. “I’m goint to take pictures with [the uniform], put it on the internet and have fun with my family after the game.”