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'You Would Have Got, 'Go And Learn The Rules' Or 'Go Back To Ireland''

'You Would Have Got, 'Go And Learn The Rules' Or 'Go Back To Ireland''
By PJ Browne
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Late last year Conor Glass, just a few months back in Ireland after ending his Aussie rules career, said he had received abuse during his AFL career simply for being Irish.

That is an experience which Mark Keane, who recently ended his time with Collingwood, also had. Keane made the move to Australia in 2018, and played five senior games for Collingwood.

"You would have got, 'Go and learn the rules' or 'Go back to Ireland'," Keane told Balls.

"I didn't really take it to heart much. Us Irish boys would have dished it out just as much back to them.

"In the games, they would have said, 'Go learn the rules' or that I don't know how to play the game. I suppose all us Irish boys get that kind of stick.

"It actually would have been from players that you're playing against. It would have been from fans as well.

"The Collingwood players would have stood up for me. They would have had a few words with the players. Us Irish boys are going over taking an Australian person's spot. You just have to laugh at them really."


Mark Keane: 'I always wanted to come home and play for Cork'

Keane still had a year left on his Collingwood contract when he decided he'd had enough. After returning to Cork during the AFL off-season, he lined out for his local hurling club Ballygiblin. This weekend, they face Kilkenny champions Mooncoin in the All-Ireland junior final at Croke Park. Keane has played in all their games in the campaign bar the Munster semi-final against Caherline.

Hurler Mark Keane of Ballygiblin, Cork, pictured ahead of one of #TheToughest showdowns of the year, which sees Ballygiblin face off against Mooncoin of Kilkenny in the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Championship Final this Saturday, February 5th at 3pm. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

"I suppose I always wanted to come home and play for Cork in either hurling or football," says Keane, who famously scored the winning goal for Cork in the 2020 Munster football semi-final against Kerry.

"I just felt like it was the right time to come home. I went back over for five or six weeks for a pre-season. When I came home I just wasn't ready to go back. Just in my own head, I've always went back without a bother but this time just felt it wasn't the same and I wasn't ready to go back and commit to it.

"I just had to ring the head coach and general manager and had a few conversations with them, and they were very supportive of it as well, looked after me very well with my transition back to home.


"I suppose my head coach before Nathan Buckley said, 'You must give what you get.' You must put in all the work to get what you want. It's kind of up to yourself really. There's a lot of fellas still out there enjoying it, happy out, and I wish them the best of luck and hopefully they strive out there still.

"When I was over there, I was always invested in it, whenever I was training, I trained to the best of my ability and stuff like that, but in the back of my mind GAA was always there. I've tried loads of time to ignore the GAA back here at home, but unfortunately I couldn't get it out of my head."

8 November 2020; Mark Keane of Cork celebrates after scoring his side's first goal, late in extra time, during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Keane has already thrown his lot in with the Cork hurlers for 2022. He's had the odd training session with the panel, and hopes to make his senior competitive debut against Offaly later this month.

"I've a Munster medal and All-Ireland medal in hurling from U15 and U16 under John Meyler. I played hurling all the way up as well.


"Football was always kind of my love. I played minor and U20 at football level, would've played both if I could have. I just thought it was the right time to give hurling a go. It's a dream for everyone really to play both codes, play Cork hurling and football. Since I've done the football, I just wanted to give hurling a go. I just feel like it's the right time.

"I didn't play hurling over [in Australia], I didn't have a hurley actually over there for the first year and a half. Then I decided I'd buy a hurley. O'Neills actually have a depot there in Adelaide, so it was handy enough to get it over there. Just kept at it really. I'd go for a puck around with my housemate Cian McBride or might go to one or two sessions a year with Garryowen.

"Anytime I've come home, Ballygiblin haven't been in championship, so I haven't got to do that either. This year I was just glad that it worked out in the off season that Ballygiblin were getting ready for their championship against Killavullen to start off, and we're still on that journey."


This Saturday will be Keane's first time playing in Croke Park. He did not think he'd make that bow with Ballygiblin rather than Cork.

"I suppose it's a dream to be there with your county above in Croke Park, but it's even better to be there with your clubmates," he says.

"It's a dream come true for any club to be above in Croker with your club team."

Picture credits: credit: Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com

This is one of four AIB GAA Club Championship finals which will be decided at Croke Park this weekend, with Kilmoyley GAA, Kerry, taking on Naas GAA, Kildare, at 5pm on Saturday in the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Final. On Sunday, the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Junior and Intermediate Club Championship finals will take centre stage, with Kilmeena, Mayo, taking on Gneeveguilla, Kerry, in the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Junior Club Championship at 1.30pm while in the Intermediate decider, Trim GAA, Meath, face Steelstown Brian Ógs, Derry, at 3.30pm. All four games will be streamed online on Spórt TG4 YouTube, while tickets are also available on gaa.ie/tickets/.

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