"I'd be kicking myself if I guessed one way" - Stephen O'Keeffe on saving Aussie's penalty
Ballygunner 2-11 Mount Sion 0-8
Has Stephen O'Keeffe ever conceded a goal?
The Ballygunner 'keeper makes last-ditch saves for a living.
At this stage, having seen him stop bullets so many times before, and going back to when he was playing with Waterford too, it seems that if you want to beat him, then you're going to have to hit the perfect shot.
And under the pressure applied by the Ballygunner backs, and often times, with only a split second to pick your spot, it's rare that you'll get the chance.
Mount Sion had chances but they didn't take them.
Jamie Gleeson, his brother Austin and Alan Kirwan all took on the Ballygunner number one this Sunday, in the Waterford senior hurling final, but just like so many times before, and at key times in the game, they were trying to score past a brick wall.
One of those days pic.twitter.com/oDUGzpSwYI
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) September 11, 2022
That's exactly what Stephen O'Keeffe is.
All three chances were gilt-edged - Jamie Gleeson did well to break through but his shot wasn't good enough. He got his penalty anyway but Austin could do no better. The wet conditions didn't help but as ever, Sokky was equal to him.
It was interesting afterwards, during his Laoch na hImeartha interview with TG4, when O'Keeffe revealed that he never guesses, or never studies the preferred sides of his opponents. It's all about reactions, and he has some of the best reactions in the game.
"I've never done that for anybody," he told Micheál Ó Domhnaill.
"Not because I don't respect how good they are as penalty takers it's just that I'd be kicking myself if I guessed one way and they put it the other way and it wasn't a a great penalty.
"I'd be thinking, I could have saved that if I'd just watched the ball. No I just watch the ball and react as quick as I can," he added.
“I don't know how far we can go but the appetite is certainly there” 👌👊
Is é Stephen O'Keeffe Laoch na hImeartha inniu! Comhghairdeas leat Stephen! 👏👏
#GAABEO@GAA_BEO | @officialgaa | @WaterfordGAA
BEO/LIVE AR @TG4TV pic.twitter.com/dL50vucTNL
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) September 11, 2022
O'Keeffe said that, as a team, Ballygunner were only delighted to slug it out in the wet weather so as to prove their doubters wrong.
"We love when the weather's like this. It's a chance for us to prove it that we can do it in these conditions. It's a criticism that's levelled at us, that we can only do it on a sunny day and that when it comes to a wet, muddy battle, we wouldn't be able to hack it. So that's good for us to know that we can.
At times, it was a case of slugging it out as men like Eoin Whelan and PJ Fanning thundered into their much vaunted opponents. But in the end, with Dessie Hutchinson picking off the scores, and Peter Hogan ending it all with a beautiful goal, Ballygunner were just too good.
"People doubted us whether we could come back this year after winning last year," said Hutchinson in his captain's speech.
"But I think today showed that there's no end to this great team."
Nine-in-a-row but they want more.