Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 24 February 2018

Please let me play against my county -- McKeever

Niall McKeever
Niall McKeever

Former AFL player Niall McKeever wants Liam Bradley to let him play against Antrim on Sunday to help him adjust to Gaelic football again.

The 24-year-old recently returned home after four years with the Brisbane Lions and has been given permission by the Antrim boss to line out for UUJ in the McKenna Cup.

However, Bradley has requested that he does not play against the Saffrons in Sunday's McKenna Cup clash with Jordanstown.

McKeever, who will be a huge addition to Antrim this year and starred in UUJ's defeat to Down on Sunday, has admitted he is keen to play.

"I see it as games in the legs," he said. "I've been four years out of Gaelic football and it has taken me a while to blow out the rust but I have well and truly acclimatised now and I'm delighted to be home.

"But I do need games in the legs and that's what I see the McKenna Cup as, and the Ryan Cup as well.

"I don't think Liam wants me or Colm Duffin (also UUJ) playing against Antrim but another game would be great."

McKeever made 22 appearances in the AFL for the Brisbane Lions, though his game time was limited in his fourth and final season. He was not offered a new contract but made no attempt to get a new deal with another club.

"It was an absolutely incredible experience and I have no regrets going out there, but it was time to come home," he revealed. "I was just a kid when I moved and it took a while to adapt, but Brisbane Lions were great and I can't say a bad word against them."

McKeever lined out for Antrim in the 2009 Ulster final against Tyrone under Bradley. He was a huge prospect, but Bradley anticipates it could be a few months before Antrim gets the best from him as he readjusts to the round ball.

The Portglenone star believes his club and county are getting a better player than the one they lost four years ago.

"Obviously I've grown, I'm 24 years old now and a bit bigger and a bit stronger," added the sports science student. "Playing in a professional atmosphere for the last four years has brought my game on a lot I think."

Irish Independent

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