Hugo Keenan on what was going through his mind for that stunning catch
"It's been a mad few months now. It has been enjoyable. I can't say I've seen it coming; it's been a bit mad."
From October 24 until March 20, Hugo Keenan has logged 11 straight starts for Ireland and made the No.15 jersey his own.
Back when Rob Kearney was finishing up with Ireland, the talk was about Jordan Larmour settling in for the long haul at fullback. Larmour then got injured and Jacob Stockdale got his shot while Keenan was finding his Test feet on the wing.
The Kildare native got two fullback runs against Wales and England, last year, and his performances in green, and in Leinster blue, settled it for Andy Farrell. He began the Six Nations as Ireland's fullback and his position has never been in doubt.
Against England, he was perhaps his quietest in terms of carries and tackles, but he covered the back field well, chased kicks with intent and delivered an outstanding moment that must have produced thousands of mini standing ovations at homes across the country.
17 phases into a sweeping, multi-faceted Irish attack, Johnny Sexton took to the skies with a steepling kick designed to put England under the pump. It was a tactic that hard worked against Scotland, last week, and Keenan made sure it did the trick again.
It looked, for all money, that Elliot Daly was favourite to claim the ball but Keenan, arriving just in time, not only got his hands on the ball, he won the arm-wrestle with the Lions star to win it.
Jesus, where to start?!
WHAT A TRY!!! 👏pic.twitter.com/8PShiiXt8s
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) March 20, 2021
With that move giving the Irish attack a shot in the arm, and sucking in bodies, play spread left and it was Jack Conan that got over to finish off Ireland's best attacking move in years.
Following his team's 32-18 win over England, Keenan spoke about what was going through his mind for that cross-field kick from Sexton:
"Just, 'Go and get the ball!'
"I don't think we had any advantage, or anything like that. It's just one of those moments where you have to 100% commit to it. I heard Elliot Daly call for the mark, so it was just about not letting him get to it.
"I know we held the ball for two or three minutes before that. It would have been a bit disappointing to let them out, like that, so it's just about winning those small moments and focusing on my job. Because the forwards were trucking it up and doing all the hard work, so it was the least I could do."
Daly calling that mark shows how the English fullback reckoned he had the situation in hand. He was not reckoning on Keenan, however.
"I'm loving my rugby at the moment," he said, "and it's great to be involved in a special squad like today's, and special games like that.
"It's just a pity there was no crowd out there because I'd say that would have been a whole different ball game. That would have been a cool one, I'd say."