Paddy McKeever, new horizons
AFTER making his debut in 1998 against Down, Paddy McKeever enjoyed a glittering career in the orange of Armagh, scoring 7-144 as he collected an All-Ireland, seven Ulster titles and a NFL medal. His ventures into management with Fermanagh side Teemore Shamrocks have already proved fruitful as they collected this year’s intermediate title.
Here he tells Gaelic Life about his time with Armagh, including his reasons for quitting, and his future ambitions on the other side of the chalk.
Niall McCoy: You finished up with Armagh in April 2009, is there any lingering regrets that you ended your county career too soon?
Paddy McKeever: I didn’t say too much on it at the time, I probably could have played on for a while. I thought it was the right decision for a number of reasons. It appeared there was a different focus at that time and I felt it was the right decision, even though I was probably a bit younger than those players at the veteran stage. To be honest I didn’t feel like I was an integral part of the panel anymore and I wasn’t really enjoying playing too much either, so that had a lot to do with it.
NMC: A lot of the 2002 squad quit at the same time, or shortly before you, did that play a part in your decision as well?
PMcK: Not to sound like an old romantic, but when I started out in 1998 I was coming into a dressing room with the O’Rourkes, McGeeney, McGrane, Marsden, McNultys, boys like that. I probably felt when I was thinking about finishing that we didn’t have the same prospects in 2009 of competing for All-Irelands like I had been used to year in, year out. And that’s not to disrespect the players that were there and were maybe just starting their county careers, I just wasn’t used to that.
NMC: Ronan Clarke’s latest injury set-back would appear to limit his chances of playing inter-county football again. If he had to quit, that would end the 2002 team’s association with Armagh. Did we ever get to see the best of Clarke?
PMcK: Ronan is an absolutely fantastic player, he was a big man with the right physique and had so much talent. To be honest we probably didn’t see the best of Ronan, which is massively unfortunate. Ronan is still relatively young so I wouldn’t want to say his county career is over, but it’s very hard to get back playing for your county with those injuries. He’s also missed a lot of club action over it too and I’m sure he’s annoyed that he has missed some big days.
I have only been talking to him three or four times recently, but I know the work he has been putting in and maybe Ronan pushed the boat out too much to get back fit, but that’s the measure of him, he’d work so hard to get back to his best, he just hasn’t had the luck.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday October 18. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here