A Practical view on Galway

Brendan Keogh and his three kids Ð from left: Donag , Ailbhe and Sean

Nineteen years ago, Brendan Keogh was wing half forward on the Galway team that lost the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny. Needless to say, he’s hoping the Tribesmen can avenge that defeat in their eagerly-anticipated All-Ireland final replay against Brian Cody’s men on September 30.

A three-time All-Ireland club winner with Athenry, Brendan was very heartened by Galway’s performance in the drawn final and expects them to be even better in the replay.

“I was greatly encouraged by their display the last day. Kilkenny still haven’t beaten them in the championship this year and not many teams can say that after playing them twice in the same summer,” he says.

“When you consider that it was their first final and they had lost the element of surprise by beating Kilkenny in the Leinster final, Galway did really well to come out of it with a draw. They made a great start and played a great first half overall. They let Kilkenny back into it in the third quarter, but had the character and belief to come back and level it at the end. Galway could take an awful lot of positives out of that game and will be quietly confident going into the replay.”

Having earned a second bite at the cherry courtesy of Joe Canning’s last-gasp equalising free, Brendan believes Galway will have the psychological edge in the replay.

Ailbhe in her Galway colors at this years All-Ireland

“Usually, the team that comes back to force the draw has the mental edge in the replay. As I already said, Kilkenny haven’t beaten Galway in two attempts and that has to be a source of frustration for them. I would expect Galway to be the hungrier team, but the question is: can our backs hold the likes of Colin Fennelly, Richie Power and Eoin Larkin again? If they can keep those players quiet a second time, they will be in with a great chance.”

Brendan feels the Tribesmen’s participation in the Leinster SHC has been a big factor in their improvement.

“It has definitely brought them,” he insists.

“The more championship experience a team gets, the better they become. When I was playing for Galway, the All-Ireland semi-final was our first competitive game of the championship. It was a big disadvantage to us.”

Aged 42, Brendan enjoyed a glittering playing career with both Athenry and Galway. At club level, he won seven Galway and Connacht SHC medals as well as three All-Ireland club titles in 1997, 2000 and 2001. In addition, he won three county MHC and five U21HC medals.

“I was lucky to be part of a great group of players in Athenry who stayed together from underage right up to senior,” he fondly recalls.

Ailbhe, Noel Keogh (Ailbhe and Sean's Cousin) and Sean Keogh enroute to Croke Park for this years All-Ireland

Keogh lost an All-Ireland MHC final with Galway to Kilkenny in 1988, but made amends three years later when the Tribesmen defeated Offaly in the All-Ireland U21 final. He broke onto the Galway senior team in the same year and played under three different managers – Cyril Farrell, Jarlath Cloonan and Mattie Murphy – before overseas work commitments forced him to take a break from the inter-county scene in 1996. He returned in 2000 to win a second National League medal to go with the one he collected in ’96.

Brendan also enjoyed Railway Cup success in the colours of Connacht and is the holder of Oireachtas and Connacht SHC medals. He retired from hurling in 2003 following Athenry’s All-Ireland club semi-final defeat to Birr.

In the same year, Brendan set up Practical Finance Ltd along with his brother Barry and Micheal Donoghue, who managed Clarinbridge to last year’s All-Ireland club title. Based in Church Street, Athenry, Practical Finance offers a one-to-one service in motor and agriculture finance. The company is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.