Sunday 4 December 2016

Euros joy and domestic bliss cheers Keogh after play-off disappointment

Published 27/05/2016 | 02:30

“I didn’t really know what that guy was trying to achieve,” said Keogh as he reflected on that fraught evening in Hull which ended in a 3-2 aggregate defeat for his side. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
“I didn’t really know what that guy was trying to achieve,” said Keogh as he reflected on that fraught evening in Hull which ended in a 3-2 aggregate defeat for his side. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

At another time in his life, Richard Keogh might have been tempted to lash out at the pitch invader who celebrated Hull City's play-off win over Derby by approaching the Ireland defender to scream abuse in his face.

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The 29-year-old stood his ground when the pumped-up Tigers follower - who was subsequently outed as an ex-con who spent time in jail for attacking pensioners in their homes - tried to goad him into a response.

Keogh probably would have been forgiven for raising a hand but he restrained himself before the fan was taken away by security.

The culprit, Adam Pardoe, tried to make a public apology through his local newspaper but he was banned for life by Hull.

Missing out on the Premier League again was a devastating blow for the defender after three unsuccessful promotion tilts and the post-match shenanigans left a sour taste.

But a month after becoming a father for the first time, with the excitement of the Euros around the corner, he was able to quickly put his disappointment into perspective.

"I didn't really know what that guy was trying to achieve," said Keogh as he reflected on that fraught evening in Hull which ended in a 3-2 aggregate defeat for his side.

"His side had won, they've just got to Wembley and I don't know why he'd want to do that.

"Apparently, he tried to apologise to me and stuff but, at the end of the day, he's killed himself there.

"It's disappointing when it happens in the heat of the moment, you don't know what they are going to do to you so I just tried to protect myself and protect my team-mates.

"I'm glad it didn't get to the stage where it got out of hand. I thought it was the right thing to do, standing my ground, and obviously I got ushered off. He's got to live with himself now. If he's doing things like that (previous offences) he's not a very nice guy."

The arrival of his son, Sebastian, in his life meant that the popular defender was able to return home and quickly forget his troubles.

"I've been around football long enough to know you go through ups and downs," he continued.

"It's about how you bounce back. We had the disappointment there, but I'm a lucky man.

"On the bad days, I can go back to my baby son and wife. One look at him will make you forget everything.

"I love being a father, and it makes you see things in a different light.

"It's been a bit of a whirlwind, the past month. We had the birth of my son and then I won the player of the year at Derby in the space of three or four days.

"It was a fantastic time for my family and hopefully I can top it off now by going to a tournament because it's great being part of such a great squad.

"Some people are not lucky enough to ever get the chance to go a major tournament, so I want to make sure I can go."

Tuesday's open training session in the Aviva Stadium was followed by the first wave of formalities in the team hotel which included striking a pose for the team shots that will come up on the big screen in the French stadiums. It's all totally new territory for the late developer.

"I think it's starting to become more real now," said Keogh, one of a small group in the squad that have never played top-flight football.

His strong autumn which included starring roles in the wins over Germany and Bosnia has put him in contention for a starting place with John O'Shea and Ciaran Clark his rivals.

"I've been lucky that I've played in some big games and acquitted myself well," he said.

"It's healthy when you have that competition there, it brings the best of you. We've all got different strengths and weaknesses.

"I've learned a lot from John, a great guy and a fantastic player and myself and Ciaran complemented each other well in the Bosnia.

"It's worked out great so we'll be working as hard as possible now to go out there and hopefully play a part."

Irish Independent

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