"It's great to be at the top of the pile now rather than the bottom of it."
Tao Te Ching is the classic Chinese text that put forward the renowned theory of yin and yang. “When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created.” Without darkness light cannot exist. The idea centres around the premise that for things to be good, there has to be a bad.
Duality is at the core of various belief systems and contemporary advisers now peddles it as a way to be more appreciative of what you have. If ever someone embodies enjoying the good after enduring the bad, it is Padraig McKeever.
McKeever is just 26, the Meath man is currently preparing for a Leinster Club Football Semi-Final with his club, Simonstown. They take on St. Lomans this Sunday in Cusack Park. For McKeever it embodies a significant turnaround, both collectively and personally:
In my second year we were fighting relegation, that's around eight years ago now. I've tasted the highs and lows of senior football now, which I think has given lads that bit of experience as well.
Even this year the Colm O’Rourke coached Simonstown's route has not been easy. The defending champions met Dunboyne in the Meath quarter-final and were hit for a sucker-punch with two early goals. Before they knew it they were 11 points down at half-time:
At half time we were 10 or 11 down. We thought if we could get a quick goal or two it would give us a bit of a chance. So we went out and threw everything at them and I think we scored four goals in the second-half.
We were just delighted to get out of there with the win. It was a great turn-around in the second-half, lads showed a bit of steel which is what's required at that time of the year.
McKeever is in flying form recently. The midfielder landed 0-04 of his sides 1-12 in their win over Starlights last time out and has been recalled to the Meath senior panel as a result. It wasn’t a straightforward progression though. He was involved previously until a serious knee injury, the second of his career, ruled him out:
I played a bit for Meath in the past under Mick O’Dowd. I’d one or two bad knee injuries then, at the moment it’s just the club going on. That’s where the head is at.
It didn’t help that both injuries came to the same knee:
One was two years and again four years ago. MCL and a broken bone in the knee, same knee.
It was in the O’Byrne cup that I broke the bone in the knee against Carlow, thankfully fully fit at the moment.
McKeever’s turnaround is all the sweeter because the same men who toiled with him then are with him now:
There's a core of lads who've been there since that relegation match and we've obviously blooded some new guys in as well along the way.
It would be brilliant (to keep going), but we can't be thinking too far ahead of ourselves yet.
Next up for Simonstown is St. Lomans of Westmeath. Captained by John Heslin and coached by Luke Dempsey, they have won the last three Westmeath county champions and are now favourites for the Leinster Championship. That won’t deter McKeever though:
Last year we said we'd love to give this a good crack again next year. Unfortunately for Meath clubs, in the last few years they've had some tricky fixtures and had to go down to some awkward places.
We've gotten over the first hurdle and we're hoping to go down to Westmeath and get a win next weekend.
As McKeever reveals, the two sides are familiar with each other already:
Yeah, this is definitely a tough test. Funnily enough, we've actually played them in two friendlies already this year. So they're well accustomed with us and we are with them. I think it was one-all.
We know what they're about and they know what we're about. We're looking forward to it.
As yin and yang explains, for one team on Sunday to succeed another must fail. Two binary points of reality. Padraig McKeever very much hopes his year stays occupied in one of them.
Padraig McKeever was speaking at the AIB Leinster GAA Club Senior Football Championship Semi-Final Media Day in Croke Park.