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Conal Keaney Is One Of The Last Of A Dying 'Warrior' Breed In The GAA

Conal Keaney Is One Of The Last Of A Dying 'Warrior' Breed In The GAA

We all know the type. Every GAA squad has a lad that is well older than most of the panel. You end the season thinking, 'Jesus, this will surely be Tom's last year', but come January he's up at the pitch mad to go again.

It's not that he's not good enough anymore, but how does he stay going? There's lads sick of playing by the time they're 25, never mind nearly 40.

When he goes out on the field, he still cares more than anybody. He puts his body on the line, seemingly rolling back the years with every performance.

This man can be described as what is a affectionately known in the GAA as a 'warrior'.

One the great warriors in the GAA was on show last weekend, with 36-year old Conal Keaney leading Dublin to an unlikely victory over Galway. He shows no signs of slowing down, and in fact is playing the best hurling of his life at the moment.

Speaking on this week's Three Man Weave, the Balls GAA podcast, the lads got into a discussion about warriors in the GAA. Mick believes that we don't see as many as we used to, as lads unfortunately now shy away from the inter-county game at an earlier age.

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Mick: So Keaney is 37 in September I think, which is an unbelievable age in this day and age to be playing inter-county hurling. We talked earlier in the year about how you would look at the line-ups and see one 30-year old and everyone else was 24, that's the teams now.

But you look at his performance, and he's still the best player that Dublin have. It's remarkable, it's as good as he ever was.

I wonder about lads retiring soon. If you don't have the hunger to go back, that's your decision, you're not getting paid for it and you don't have to go back. It's more the feeling that it's passed you by when you're 30 or 31.

Experience counts for a lot as well. You might lose a little bit of pace, but you've played a lot longer than these lads and you know what way the ball is going to bounce. You can be a lot calmer and stuff like that. I'd like to see a lot more players play into their 30's and just reinvent themselves.

Brick (Walsh) has reinvented himself three times for Waterford. He's literally had three different stages of his career, and the last one is as good as any of them.

Keaney is definitely playing better than ever, and it's great to see.

As the game becomes ever more demanding, there is a likelihood that characters such as this will become increasingly rare in the GAA. That would be a massive shame, as matches would be far less enjoyable without the likes of Conal Keaney around.

Let's enjoy them while we can.

SEE ALSO: 'It's One Of Those Things You Could Write A Play About' - There Was Nothing Like Dublin And Meath

Gary Connaughton

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