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'I'd say fair play to Keegan for even thinking about it, to be honest with you'

Former Kildare captain Johnny Doyle gives his honest assessment of the GPS-throwing incident during Sunday’s All-Ireland.

FORMER KILDARE CAPTAIN and All-Star Johnny Doyle doesn’t believe Lee Keegan was ‘right’ to launch his GPS in the direction of Dean Rock during the latter’s winning free on Sunday, but reckons he would have done the same thing had he been in the Mayo talisman’s boots.

Speaking on The42.ie’s GAA Show Doyle accepted that were Rock to have missed his free as a result of Keegan’s flung missile, and were Mayo to have subsequently gone on to win the game, the outrage would have been biblical, but tipped his hat to Keegan for even having the presence of mind to conjure up such an antic.

Mayo were there to win, said Doyle, explaining why he wasn’t shocked to see one of Stephen Rochford’s men go to such lengths in order to prevent their doom at the death.

“If you were in the same position, you’d probably do the same thing,” the Kildare legend said of the incident. “You’re looking for every inch. I’d say fair play to him for even thinking about it, to be honest with you.

“In such circumstances, to reach behind and take it out of the back of your jersey, I’d say fair play to him.

“With such high stakes, we all do things on the field. If you ask Seán Cavanagh if he was in that position again, with Conor McManus bearing down on goal [in 2013] – you know, to me that was the start of the black card, really – and he’d do the very same. I’d say to him if he didn’t, he’d be foolish.

At that level, it’s win at all cost. If he [Rock] did miss and Mayo went on to win it, it would be huge controversial, but look it, every little inch. These boys are there to win, not to entertain. We, the general public, want to be entertained, and we love games like Sunday, but it’s win first and entertain last. That’s the level they’re at now.

One viewer then asked of Doyle if he would encourage such an act in an underage game, to which the former forward explained that he didn’t go so far as to condone Keegan’s missile launch, but merely understood why the 27-year-old half-back had attempted it.

“It’s not very sportsmanlike, but look it, it’s winner takes all,” Doyle replied. “But in fairness to Dean Rock, he had ice in the veins.

It’s understandable [the incident]. There’s lots of things going on Sunday that you wouldn’t be saying go out and do it in an under-8 match. Like, let’s be honest about it – no different to any other sport. But the stakes are so high. It’s not acceptable, but I can understand why he did it.

“Maybe Headquarters will look at that, and maybe there’s a ban coming for Lee Keegan. ‘It’s not right, he shouldn’t have done it’ – you can roll out all these right things to say, but if you’re in his position… I probably wouldn’t have thought of it, that’s the only thing!”

Doyle regaled of how, during his own playing career, resources within Kildare GAA were such that he had to share one GPS with his team-mates, before suggesting that if Keegan “does get a ban, it’s hard to argue with it.”

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