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Keegan keeps his feet on the ground


COMING THROUGH Westport’s Lee Keegan tries to evade Castlebar Mitchel’s Danny Kirby during Saturday’s Mayo SFC clash in Breaffy. Pic: Conor McKeown.


Mike Finnerty

DESPITE our best efforts last Saturday evening, Lee Keegan politely declined to ‘do a Padraig O’Hora on it’ and declare that Westport were going to win the Moclair Cup this season.
Ballina captain O’Hora caused quite a stir earlier this month when he told Mayo GAA TV after his team’s victory over Claremorris that he believed the Stephenites were going to go all  the way to the county title.
However, despite helping Westport into the quarter-finals on the back of their first ever senior championship win over Castlebar Mitchels last weekend, Keegan said he would be ‘diplomatic’ when asked about his club’s chances of outright victory.
“[James] Horan will probably kill me if I said anything out of line!” he laughed. “I’ll keep it very diplomatic, we’ll reassess after today, train during the week, and look ahead to the quarter-final next weekend.”
Next up for Martin Calvey’s upwardly mobile young squad is a shot at last year’s Intermediate champions, The Neale at MacHale Park, Castlebar next Sunday afternoon at 2pm. Keegan and company will spend the next few days recovering from the exertions of a famous win over their neighbours.
“A lot of people were calling it a derby game, but I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” offered the former Footballer of the Year.
“This was the first time that Westport had beaten Castlebar in the senior championship so it’s a stepping stone for us and this young group. Mitchels are one of the standard-bearers for senior clubs in the last five or six years, along with Ballintubber and Breaffy.
“These teams have been there or thereabouts.
“We knew we had the legs on them in the third and fourth quarters today, and that showed,” he added. “That youth and exuberance, bar myself and Kevin Keane, we’re letting the younger guys do the running for us.
“But we have so much to work on again, which is brilliant going into a quarter-final.”
Like most outdoor sporting fixtures across the country at the moment, last Saturday evening’s match was played with no spectators present due to Covid-19 public health restrictions.
It meant there was a quite a surreal and subdued atmosphere for a championship match with so much riding on it. Not that it bothered Lee Keegan.
“It was strange and weird, but it is what it is,” he shrugged. “We just have to adapt to it. As I said before, it’s just great to be playing football, If somebody told me three months ago that we’d be playing football I’d have taken their arm off. We’re very lucky.
“As strange as it is, it’s still championship football and we still have to go out and perform. And today we performed. It was a brilliant performance from our guys today, but it’s only another stepping stone for us.  
“We want to be pushing on, we can’t wait for a quarter-final, we want to express ourselves.
“But it will mean nothing if we don’t win again next week.”

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