Lee Keegan confirms that another false rumour was circulated about him six years ago
Keegan happy to block out noise in glory chase
Out of the game but still in the news.
Lee Keegan's statement to confirm that he hadn't been diagnosed with MS was one of the more bizarre stories of the GAA year. How it started, he has no idea. But it seems that someone heard he'd miss the early part of the 2018 season and it went from there.
By the time the rumours made it back as far as him, they had already taken flight.
"I'm a bit of a featherhead in a normal day, I let everything kind of pass by me," he said.
"Social media I wouldn't be the biggest man on either. I didn't pay too much attention to what was going on until my partner came home one day and said, 'You know, there's a bit of a thing going about your health at the moment.' It's very disappointing to hear stuff like that.
"I felt just I had to say something, probably just for family abroad, for friends and stuff like that. It was something I was very disappointed to hear because I know families in Westport, they do suffer, there's quite a number of people in Westport... and for them to be coming up talking to mum saying, 'If you need advice or anything like that,'
"It was probably tough for her and again, you don't want your family going through that kind of stuff."
Two and two became five and Keegan felt it best to issue a statement to stop the rumour in its track. Keegan accepts that whirring of the rumour mill can come with the territory. It just usually busies itself with more trivial stuff.
"Ah, madness. I wouldn't mind if it was injury. I remember hearing before the 2012 All-Ireland that I had a broken leg but yet I was able to run on the pitch! Stuff like that's fine, you can deal with that but when it comes to serious health issues, again, you don't want to be hearing that."
And so he brought a close to one of the stranger tales to have filled the winter vacuum. It seems to be an occupational hazard for this Mayo team. Last year they found themselves in the news for one reason or another. Some of it welcome, some of it not with Aidan O'Shea singled out for individual criticism.
Keegan insists they don't let the noise in. The best response, he insists, is to finally win an All-Ireland.
"Whatever goes on among our circle we're happy with. What happens externally we can't prevent, that's just going to happen. Again, as Aidan (O'Shea) said, as long as his family is not upset in any shape or form, he's happy that he can take that stuff.
"I don't like to see it because I know the guy personally very well, I'd be good friends with him, and from that point of view you never want to see a guy's name dragged through the mud.
"It definitely becomes an obsession. Mayo I suppose are constantly in the limelight until we win an All-Ireland. That's the unfortunate thing about us and until we do it we're probably going to be in the limelight for another while."
Keegan is out of action at the minute. Over the winter, he underwent an operation to fix hip trouble that essentially stems from wear and tear over the years. It involved shaving between 5 and 8mm off the bone and will keep him out of action until at least the penultimate round of the league.
The new calendar doesn't do the former Footballer of the Year any favours. Mayo start their championship when Galway come to Castlebar on May 13, looking for their third win in as many years over their great rivals.
Last year thought them that nothing can be taken for granted as they flirted with disaster against the likes of Derry and Cork before coming arguably as close as they ever have to finally beating Dublin and winning an All-Ireland SFC title.
And he believes if Mayo can get over Dublin once, it will give them the belief to repeat the dose and get over the line.
"I suppose if we'd beaten Dublin once we could have beaten two or three times, and have two or three All-Irelands. But because Dublin are so good we don't. We're looking at the tiniest of margins trying to beat them. The biggest thing for this group is that until we beat Dublin, and that's up to us to find those margins.
"I don't have the answer to that yet. The league game might tell us a bit more about where we're at, and where Dublin are at. Dublin are operating at another level again straight away this season so that's what we know about them to this point.
Until the core group of us actually beat Dublin, which we haven't done since '12, then that's going to be the biggest factor for us.
"I think once we get over the line once with them then we're going to have that belief to say, 'You know what, if we get them in another big game we know we can beat them'. And we believe we can beat them, that's not our issue. It's that we have to beat them, that's where our problems have come from.
"We have put ourselves in brilliant positions to do it, look at last year, two points up with seven minutes to go, but still didn't get across the line because Dublin were there, they've done it before, they have that know how to do it whereas I think if it was another team we probably would have beaten them.
"But it was Dublin and they know how to win games and that's why I respect them so highly, because they're so good at grinding out games when they shouldn't."
- Leeroy Keegan was speaking at the Expansion and Re Branding of Sports Physio Ireland on Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin. Sports Physio Ireland is a unique sports injury practice dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries. For more, see: sportsphysioireland.com
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