Thursday 21 September 2017

Joe Brolly: I think Lee Keegan is the best footballer to ever play for Mayo

Lee Keegan and (inset) Joe Brolly
Lee Keegan and (inset) Joe Brolly

Harry Clarke

As a gaelic footballer and as a man, they don't come much better than Mayo's Lee Keegan.

That's the view of Joe Brolly, who lavished Keegan with high praise on this week's episode of the Throw In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast.

Subscribe and listen to The Throw-In podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Keegan sat out Mayo's 4-19 to 0-9 demolition job on Roscommon with a foot injury last Monday and Sunday Independent columnist Brolly happened to bump into last year's Footballer of the Year outside the dressing room after the match.

Brolly was discussing Brendan Harrison's performance against the Rossies with Throw In host Will Slattery when the topic turned to why you don't have to be tall to play at full-back.

"When I was coming past the Mayo changing room after the game, Lee Keegan came over to say hello. It's impossible to keep the smile off your face when you are talking to Lee Keegan, did you ever meet him?

"He might just be the most confident person I have ever met. I said to him 'what the hell happened'? He said 'I've got an infection in my foot, cellulitis.

"I said 'Lee, you never cease to surprise me how small you are, you look so much bigger on the field'. He said 'no I'm not big, I am only 5"10' but I have no bother with the big men'.

"And you think of the way he knocked over Sean Cavanagh last year and what he did to big Enda Smith or to Diarmuid Connolly who is much bigger. He was just bouncing on his toes."

Brolly is not sure if Keegan will be deployed as a man marker in the All Ireland semi-final against Kerry.

"It's hard to say because the Kerry half-forward line....Donnchadh Walsh is hard-working but he is not pacey. Big Buckley is not pacey at all. That is a worry for Kerry. I suppose Geaney is not going to be such a worry as a scoring threat. His position must be under threat to Stephen O'Brien.

"The thing about Lee is that if you give him a man marking job, as you know I batted strongly for him to be footballer of the year last year, to me he is one of the three or four truly brilliant gaelic footballers and of course he is a leader. I think he is the best footballer to ever play for Mayo.

"He is completely at home on the big days because I don't think it would occur to him to be nervous. He is entirely instinctive. He can man-mark without sacrificing his forward duties. He demolished Sean Cavanagh against Tyrone last year and won the game with the two epic scores he got.

"He demolished Diarmuid Connolly in the two All Ireland finals. To me he was well on the way to winning the All Ireland final replay for Mayo until the black card. It doesn't matter who he marks, he will most definitely play in the half-backs and attack."

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Subscribe to The Throw-In, Independent.ie's weekly Championship podcast, for the best in GAA discussion and analysis every Monday, with some of the biggest names in football and hurling from Joe Brolly, Tomás Ó'Sé, Brendan Cummins and John Mullane.

Subscribe and listen to The Throw-In podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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