ALONE WITH HIS THOUGHTS Lee Keegan is pictured on the pitch at Croke Park after what turned out to be his last match for Mayo last June. Pic: Sportsfile
LEE KEEGAN says that winning an All-Ireland medal wasn’t going to make him ‘a better person’ and reveals he looks back on his Mayo career ‘with a smile and contentment’ despite retiring without a Celtic Cross in his illustrious collection.
Speaking to The Mayo Football Podcast last week following his retirement from inter-county action, Keegan said that he ‘got to live the dream for 12 years’ with Mayo, but admitted that the 2013 and 2017 All-Ireland Final defeats to Dublin were the hardest to take.
“An All-Ireland medal is not going to make me smile any more or less,
I didn’t win one and that’s life,” he said.
“I don't lose sleep over it, it won't keep me up at night, I won’t cry about it. I won’t sulk about it. I will look back at my Mayo career with a smile and a contentment that I just loved every bit of it.
“Not everyone gets what they want, but I’m satisfied that I got as much out of it as I could for as long as I played.
“I wasn’t going to be a better person by winning it, I know I’ll still come home to my family or my friends and they still look at the exact same way as if I met them when I was 16.
“That's good enough for me.”
Reflecting on the seven All-Ireland senior finals he played in (including the 2016 replay, the Westport man said that the 2013 and 2017 losses ‘were tough’.
“In 2013 we were such a dominant team during that championship, I think we pretty much dismantled everybody. Even the way we started that final, I'll never forget it.
“We started like a train and then the sucker punch goal goes in. And then we went on another bit of a crusade and went three points up.
“I remember on the day the dead heat was just a killer. The ball didn’t go out of play at one stage for about 90 seconds and I just remember people walking towards the ball, it was just that warm.
“That one just felt like it slipped away a little bit.
“Then ‘17 was probably the tough one. I’m not saying any of them were easy, they’re all tough,” he added.
“But 2017, we highlighted beforehand that the biggest challenge was that we couldn’t get a certain amount of scores against Dublin. And we hit a huge tally of scores that day, had a really top performance, and it just felt like we were going in the right direction.
“And then it just slipped out of our grasp towards the tail-end of the game. That was a tough one to take because that was at the height of the rivalry with Dublin. They were at their peak to a degree.
“You look at some of the performances that day; Chrissy Barrett was just absolutely through the roof in terms of what he put into that game. “You think of guys like that, of that capability, playing that good, and you just think, ‘this has to be our day. And I think just all the emotion hit a lot of us after the game, particularly myself. We played so well and still didn’t get over the line, so you think to yourself,’for the love of God, or is there a God?’
“You move through to the latter years, I was a bit older, and as I mentioned before, there’s only so much crying you can do sometimes. “You have to accept it, shake the man’s hand, and say, ‘well done’.”