"'Go and learn the rules' or 'Go back to Ireland," - Keane knew how to deal with sledging Aussies 11 months ago

"'Go and learn the rules' or 'Go back to Ireland," - Keane knew how to deal with sledging Aussies

There's no waffling or plámásing out of Mark Keane. He says it as it is.

He was delighted to score that famous goal in the Munster semi-final against Kerry because in his words 'you can't beat those lads enough.' He remembers the abuse that, because he was Irish, was dished out to him in the AFL but he was too mentally strong to think twice about it.

Advertisement

The Aussie boys gave him a ribbing and he gave it back twice as hard.

He could sit here and tell us that, when he first made the move to Collingwood in 2018, it was his dream to forge a long and successful career in the AFL. He could say that but instead he tells us the truth. He made the move because it was a great opportunity but playing for Cork was always in the back of his mind and try as he might, he could never manage to fully get it out of his head.

And that's how it is. There's an aura off the Ballygiblin/Mitchelstown man. You wouldn't call it a cockiness but it's certainly a confidence you'd follow into battle. His Ballygiblin team-mates will follow him into battle this Saturday when, on the back of a brilliant season, they're aiming to win the AIB All-Ireland junior hurling final against Kilkenny's Mooncoin.

Advertisement
Keane is congratulated by team-mates after his famous goal against Kerry.

It's a long way from Australia but we'll start first of all with the sledging.

"You would have got, 'Go and learn the rules' or 'Go back to Ireland," Keane says when asked about abuse from Aussie players.

"I didn't really take it to heart much. Us Irish boys would have dished it out just as much back to them.

Advertisement

"'Us Irish boys are going over taking an Australian person's spot.' You just have to laugh at them really."

The abuse wouldn't just have came from players but fans too and thankfully, Keane is well able to fight his own battles.

"In the games, they would have said, 'Go learn the rules' or that I don't know how to play the game. I suppose all us Irish boys get that kind of stick and that would have been from players that you're playing against and it would have been from fans as well. 

"But I'd just laugh at it really. The Collingwood players would have stood up for me. They would have had a few words with the players. The Collingwood boys would have been super. I didn't take it too much to heart."

Advertisement

Now he's home and to his mind, he's home for good. He's made the decision to commit with the Cork senior hurlers and as well as coaching in some local schools, that's keeping him busy for the time being.

"Even the training sessions are a great buzz, going up and meeting all the lads. They're really determined to win an All-Ireland.

"But My focus this week is with Ballygiblin. After Saturday, I'll be fully with Cork, and hopefully make my debut against Offaly next Saturday.

"For now though, I suppose it's a dream to be there with your county above in Croke Park but it's even better to be there with your clubmates."

Advertisement
Mark Keane of Ballygiblin, Cork, left, and Martin O’Neill of Mooncoin, Kilkenny, pictured ahead of one of #TheToughest showdowns of the year, which sees which sees the two sides go head-to-head in the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Championship Final this Saturday, February 5th at 3pm.