Sunday 20 October 2019

'You're nearly 30 and you can't go drinking' - Four-time All Star Lee Keegan hits out at GAA booze bans


Mayo footballer Lee Keegan in attendance at the launch of the 2019 John West Féile at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Mayo footballer Lee Keegan in attendance at the launch of the 2019 John West Féile at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Lee Keegan has lashed out at drink bans and the attitude towards alcohol in the GAA with the Mayo star insisting that players would be better served if they were shown more trust and leniency.

The former Footballer of the Year stressed the need for a culture change within the GAA to allow for more balance between football and life away from the pitch, like many professional athletes.

"You sit in the pub even having a Miwadi and the heads are staring over at you, 'why is he in here?'

"If you can't have a normal life like that, what's the point of… I think it's just the culture within GAA," four-time All-Star Keegan said.

"I always look at professional sports and particularly rugby, they have their few beers after their game and they train two days later and perform at the highest level the week after.

"That's the way the way the GAA should look at it as well.

"It's part and parcel of life. If you can't enjoy life with a bit of success or even if you lose to have a few beers with your mates, that's part of sport and you have to have that as well.

"There has to be a balance, if you are always locked into GAA, what is there out there for yourself?"

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Keegan spent the October Bank Holiday in Munich for Kevin McLoughlin's stag and he lauds manager James Horan for allowing players to enjoy themselves on and off the pitch.

There are no drinking bans in place, no contract signings, no overly strict rules to abide by and while Keegan admits he's still "the driver for all the weddings", players are not kept on tight leashes. Instead, they're trusted.

"He treats us like adults. This whole myth around 'you're nearly a 30-year-old lad, you can't go drinking', you have to debunk that because I mean if you can't be treated like an adult then you're not going to act like one in training," the four-time All-Star says.

"James understands that you have to spend time with your partner and your friends and obviously work as well is another aspect of it, you have to tick that box as well. There is flexibility but when you're on you have to be ready and training hard.

"It's just crazy getting people to sign contracts. We're adults, if you treat us like adults we will act like adults and if you start putting bans on lads that's where you start losing respect and you won't get the best from lads."

Read more: 'Championship is where you want to perform' - League success a thing of the past as Lee Keegan eyes big summer

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