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Finally Lee Keegan lifts an All-Ireland in Croke Park - 'It puts a few demons to bed'

Keegan and Westport lifted the All-Ireland club IFC title yesterday.

WHEN LEE KEEGAN left Croke Park on the back of another All-Ireland final defeat with Mayo last October, he hardly expected to be back lifting silverware in GAA headquarters so soon.

Lee Keegan and his team mates celebrate with the cup Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

The Westport defender capped off a memorable couple of months last night, adding an All-Ireland club IFC title to his fourth All-Star and the Footballer of the Year gong he picked up over the winter.

After suffering so much heartbreak with Mayo in this arena, including three All-Ireland defeats since 2012, the 27-year-old was thrilled to experience a different outcome.

“In a way, I suppose, it puts a few demons to bed,” Keegan said after the game. “Obviously Sam Maguire is the elusive one in Mayo.

“In the context of going from club to county it is a bit different. But to come out and see all your friends and family and the celebrations, it’s just a huge honour. I’m so happy for everyone that has put the effort in, the hard slog the lads put in.

“This is only a stepping stone for myself and Kevin (Keane) to go back into the camp and we’ll have a winners medal there. Hopefully it will bring a bit of inspiration to lads too because we went out and played football in the right manner.”

All-Ireland medals are now sprinkled around in the Mayo dressing room, with a host of U21s securing the ultimate honours last April.

Lee Keegan Keegan after losing the All-Ireland final with Mayo last October Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Keegan is hopeful this latest triumph for the county will inspire the seniors to eventually break the glass ceiling that has been hanging over their heads for decades.

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“Yeah, I think it can. I’m sure a few of our lads are going to get called up to 21s and senior. So it’s a huge stepping stone for a lot of our lads today.

“Hopefully it can just be a kick start for lads to realise that we can actually come to Croke Park and win an All-Ireland. It’s very hard done.

“And its very easy to say as well that ‘Oh, Mayo come up and lose’. But we’re coming up against absolutely serious teams every year, the likes of Dublin are just a machine every year, then there’s Tyrone, Kerry.

“You have to get a bit of luck up here. Like today, when that ball dropped short, you’re talking about inches in a game and I’ve been on the receiving end of that enough times.

“It’s just about getting that bit of luck and to get over the winning line is a special, special feeling. Hopefully we can go back into Mayo now and really kickstart after the Kerry result.”

For now, Keegan wants to savour this success before he turns his focus back to the inter-county campaign.

“Today is just about Westport and I’m just going to focus on what we’ve achieved here today. I’m not even looking past the next week.

“Whenevery ‘Rochy’ decides to ring we’ll take it from there. I’m just going to enjoy this. It’s long enough coming so it needs to be celebrated accordingly. I’m sure Westport will be busy for the week!”

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Kevin O'Brien

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