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'The minute he was back he wanted to play' - From Australia to Cork's goalscoring hero against Kerry

Cork boss Ronan McCarthy on the role of goalscoring hero Mark Keane.

Mark Keane celebrates after the game with Kevin Flahive.
Mark Keane celebrates after the game with Kevin Flahive.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

CORK BOSS RONAN McCarthy hailed goalscoring hero and AFL player Mark Keane for his interest in committing to the county cause when he returned home from Australia six weeks ago.

Keane struck a 91st minute goal to clinch a sensational extra-time win for Cork and dump Kerry out of the 2020 championship at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The 20-year-old made his AFL debut for Collingwood in early August but McCarthy was eager to bring him on board once the Mitchelstown man was back in Ireland.

“It’s funny the way things work but I suppose we had no hesitation in bringing him in but Mark has huge interest in Cork football. He’s played underage all the way up and even when he’s been away he’s been interested in the team and stays in touch with us and the minute he was back he wanted to play.

“We brought him in and it was evident to me he was going to be an addition to us and the way it worked out today was great. The first thing is the player wants to play, that’s the first thing, and then the second thing is that we did our business properly with Collingwood.

“We sought permission from them for him to play and they gave it to us and we’re very grateful for it but ultimately, Mark has a huge interest in Cork football.

“I think he’s back about six weeks but obviously he needed to self-isolate when he was back. He’s back about six weeks. He’s back nearly as long as we’re back but obviously he couldn’t train with us the first couple of weeks.

“I suppose the goal at the end even shows, and I think it was Tommy Walsh actually inside under him as well, he’s a great target for long balls. He’s a good passer of the ball. He’s a great target man, great physical presence and, look, he has just added to the quality and depth to the group.”

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maurice-shanley-celebrates-after-the-game-with-sean-meehan Maurice Shanley celebrates after the game with Cork's Sean Meehan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The victory is a seismic one for this Cork squad, eight years after their last success over Kerry in a senior championship outing. McCarthy praised his players for their input.

“I think the thing about this group is that everybody who’s there, they’re 100% committed to Cork football and that hasn’t been the case over the last four or five years. People thought there were pastures greener and this group here, Cork football is their number one priority.

“I suppose Cork haven’t beaten a top eight team never mind a top tier team since I think 2012. So it’s brilliant to make the breakthrough and it’s great that the players got what they deserved and I think the manner of the win as well, that we were behind in normal time and got back and the way we won it as well is testament to the group.”

The focus will soon shift to the Munster final on 22 November against Tipperary.

“We have to get back down to earth very quickly with game coming up in two weeks but we also have to enjoy the victories when they come, particularly a victory of that nature against a top, top side. They’re a top side but, look, I’m delighted with the victory, I’m delighted with the players.

“We never got too excited in days we were beaten, and there were very dark days, let’s be fair this team were beaten by 17 points two years ago, 15 by Tyrone, relegated to Division 3.

“So we just felt we needed to keep things steady and keep going in the right direction, because we felt the talent was there and the ability was there. But obviously at some point their confidence was shattered from various games, so what I’ll say is we never get too excited either way. We’ll let them enjoy it, obviously it’s a different type of enjoyment in the circumstances we’re in, but we’ll bring them back down to earth very quickly.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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