'Indestructible' Keegan bows out after 11 swashbuckling years for Mayo
After a phenomenal 11 year career, Lee Keegan has announced his retirement from inter-county football.
The Westport man will go down as one of Mayo's greatest ever players, having won five All-Stars, as well as a Footballer of the Year award in 2016.
Keegan was a swashbuckling defender. A tigerish tackler and an intense marker but what really marked him out as one of the greats was his ability not just to defend, but to attack too.
He regularly raided forward to kick crucial scores for Mayo, such as those in their momentous All-Ireland semi-final win over the Dubs in 2021, the goals in the 2016 and 2017 finals. This man was a warrior, and one of the true greats of Gaelic football.
Keegan never got to win his All-Ireland but seven Connacht titles and a National League title. His last game for Mayo was their All-Ireland quarter final loss to Kerry this year.
The news was confirmed in a statement by Mayo GAA this morning and there's no doubting it, this man will be some loss to his county. A county that he owes absolutely nothing to.
“I have enjoyed every minute of my time with Mayo," said Keegan in a short but sweet statement"
"We had great days and some memorable victories. For me, it was always about wearing that Mayo jersey with pride every single day, and I was honoured to play alongside players who were of the same mind, and under managers who drove high standards on and off the pitch.
“But all good things must come to an end.
"The reality is that I have had to rely on a lot of people – most notably my wife Aoife – to give me the time and space to pursue my dream. Now that we have two young children, Lile and Rhea, I am keenly aware that I am no longer able to commit to inter-county football in the way I did over the past eleven years. I will continue to make myself available to Westport and look forward to building on last year’s historic success in the years ahead.
“I wish Mayo every success in 2023 and beyond. I will be cheering them on from the terraces. That’ll be an unusual experience for me, I’m sure, but such is the way of life.”
Mayo manager Kevin McStay will rue the loss that Keegan will now be, but he summed up the man's perfectly in a short tribute.
“Lee has represented Mayo with great distinction. He was indestructible and defiant: on the biggest days, he walked tall and proud. Lee embodied the resilience of Mayo. The example he set will continue to inspire Mayo for many years to come.”
Indestructible. If ever there was a word for Lee Keegan, that's it.