My blood curdled when I saw that photograph from the Cardinal O’Donnell Cup final in the paper last week, the one that had Paddy Keenan lying on the ground about to get a kick in the head.
I’d been to the game and saw the tackle, but didn’t realise until afterwards how much damage had been done to the midfielder’s face. It was later still that word came through of the wound requiring 11 stitches.
Regardless of who’d been the victim, this was a brutal tackle, one that had the propensity to cause even greater damage. That it came in a match between St Patrick’s and Cooley Kickhams shouldn’t surprise anyone. For a decade now, there’s been no love lost between these neighbours. There were, however, boundaries that weren’t crossed. Now they have.
Keenan is more than just the most talented the county has turned out in ages; he’s an out and out footballer, one whose concentration is never less than 100% on playing the game. He didn’t get to the top of the ladder through thuggery, but has been often the victim of it. Ironically, just seconds before being targeted at St Brigid’s Park, he brought off the most magnificent of those trademark catches of his.
There are some things more important than winning, and this episode brings them to mind.