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Keane back in action after 336 days


BACK IN ACTION Westport’s Kevin Keane returned to competitive action in the Mayo SFC last weekend after almost 12 months on the sidelines. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Michael Gallagher

THREE hundred and thirty-six days after picking up a career-threatening knee injury in last September’s thrilling Mayo SFC quarter-final in Bekan, Kevin Keane was back in action in the blue of Westport last Saturday.
The final quarter of Saturday’s championship match with Mayo Gaels was in full swing when the former Mayo defender bounced onto the pitch for the first time in eleven months. It ended a long and winding journey from desperation to elation which visited every station along the way. The big man was back and the smile he wore after the final whistle was as broad as Clew Bay.
“It’s been a long road back from last October and there were times when I wondered if I’d ever get out there again,” the full-forward told The Mayo News as he described his second knee ligament rehabilitation. “This one was a rough ride, but that’s part and parcel of sport. I had been through it before and knew what was ahead of me. “It’s more of a mental challenge than anything. It’s lonely and on your own – a pure grind with a lot of head scratching for me, my physio Liam Moffatt and Ray Moran in Santry, but days like today make it all worthwhile.”
The 32 year-old had got the all-clear to play earlier last week and as Saturday’s clash in Tourmakeady came over the horizon, he could hardly contain himself.
“I was like a minor all over again. I was excited all week thinking that I might get on the pitch and it was great to be togging out with the lads. It’s great just to be back in the mix. I have great pride in my club. I love this club, love this team, love this town. Myself and Lee are probably the two oldest in the dressing-room now and the amount of young guys around us give so much energy and enthusiasm.
“That was such a help to me when I was injured and it was the same when Brian O’Malley was injured earlier in the year. There’s a huge buzz and you don’t want to be watching on from the sideline. You want to be part of it,” he added as his team-mates filed past.
“I can hardly wait to get into the dressing-room and have the craic with the lads, and I can’t wait to get home and see my fiancée Marie and the rest of the family. “They see all the hard grind, all the tough days when doubts might be creeping in and to get on the pitch tonight meant a lot to them too.”
Soon, it was time for the man from Fahy to join his team-mates, but not before he was asked about the new adventure stretching out in front of the Mayo senior team under Kevin McStay and his management team.
If he could roll back a few years would he jump on board?
“If my ability and my football was where it needed to be, and I was at the prime age, I’d jump at the chance but that ship has sailed for me. I had great times, great days and made friends forever. I can only imagine the great times out there in front of lads right now.
“Best of luck to Kevin McStay. He has a serious management team put together. I’ve worked with a few of them. They’re top guys and it’s very exciting times for Mayo football. There’s a lot of talent out there and sprinkle a bit of experience from the likes of Lee [Keegan], Aido [O’Shea], Jason Doc’ [Doherty], Kevin Mc [Loughlin] and those guys and we’ll be there or there abouts again.”


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