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Keegan looking to drive on


ALL FUN AND GAMES Mayo team-mates Lee Keegan and Aidan O’Shea greet each other before the start of last Sunday’s Mayo SFC first round match in Breaffy. Pic: Michael McLaughlin


Mike Finnerty

FATHERHOOD certainly hasn’t done Lee Keegan any harm.
Not on the basis of his man-marking job on Aidan O’Shea last Sunday anyway.
A few weeks after Lee and his wife Aoife welcomed a baby daughter into the world, the 2016 Footballer of the Year was deployed at full-back to try and curb the influence of the Breaffy bomber. Keegan duly held O’Shea to a point from a mark in the last quarter and also coughed up a few frees to his Mayo team-mate.
But for the four-time All Star, it’s all about doing his bit to help the team.
So a one point win for Westport against the team that knocked them out of the 2018 championship at the quarter-final stage was more than enough to bring a smile to Keegan’s face afterwards.
“We were looking forward to this game, we were motoring well in the Michael Walsh League putting up big scores so I suppose we knew from that point of view what we were up to,” he told Mayo GAA TV after the game.
“And to be honest we wanted to express ourselves, in our first game in the championship.
“If you’d told me three months ago we’d have a game like this I’d have taken someone’s hand off so we’re absolutely over the moon. But for a club like Westport this is only a stepping stone, we have to go again against Charlestown next weekend.”
From his vantage point in the full-back line, Keegan had a good view of the game’s major twists and turns. He picks out the ‘first ten minutes of the second half’ as a key period.
“We really blitzed them there, we got 1-4 on the spin,” he said. “I think that really put the pressure on Breaffy to start playing a bit more, the negative is that we let them come too much back into the game in the last ten minutes.”
Now the focus for Martin Calvey’s young squad will turn to next Saturday evening’s second round clash at home to Charlestown Sarsfields. A win there and Westport could be into the last eight with a game to spare. But Lee Keegan knows there is a job of work to be done.
“We know what Charlestown are about, we played them a few times in the championship and we’ve come unstuck against them on a few occasions. So as great as this win is, it’s worth nothing if we don’t put in another performance and get another win next weekend.
“Because you don’t want to be leaving it until the last game against Castlebar at a neutral venue, needing to get a win, knowing the calibre of team they have.
“It’s the Group of Death for a reason, but when we heard the group we were in we were excited. Sure why not? This is what club championship is all about.”
The 30 year-old hasn’t won all those medals and All Stars and made it to the top of his game without his legendary appetite for hard work, ambition and drive. He has high hopes for this Westport group too but knows it will take a lot of commitment and sacrifice.
“We’re talking about potential for years within Westport and the group of players we have that have come through from underage,” he said. “And we probably haven’t materialised it in the last few years.
“Obviously, the Intermediate [All-Ireland] was a great success but when you get to senior that’s when you need to man up and really take the game to a new level.
“But it’s just about regrouping, refocussing and re-energising now after a tough game and getting ready for another ding-dong game next weekend.”

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