For Liam Keenan the next best thing to trying to win a championship with Ardagh as a player is to try and guide them to success as a manager.
On Sunday next the former Longford midfielder will be on the line as St. Patrick’s take on neighbours Carrickedmond in the Intermediate Championship Final. He admitted that although he would rather still be playing he does like life as a manager: “I’m enjoying it but nothing beats playing. I had great experience working with Glenn (Ryan) for two years as a Longford selector and then being around the county set-up over the last 12 years you pick up an awful lot from various managers and coaches. I take bits from everybody and bring in stuff myself,” Keenan told the Leader.
At the start of the year the aim was clear for Ardagh - they wanted to reach the Intermediate Final and they have achieved just that. “To get to the Intermediate Final, that was the aim from the word go. We certainly believed we would be in the hunt. We qualified after two games in the group stage and we were very pleased with that as we carried a few injury problems into the third game. We have experienced a few disappointing years and our aim was to be in contention for the title this season. We are delighted to get through to the decider but we made hard work of it in the semi-final,” said Keenan.
Looking back on the last four clash against Legan Sarsfields it was a game Keenan felt was a potential banana skin. Last year’s Junior Champions certainly put it up to his side but Ardagh’s experience told in the end. Keenan said: “We spent a lot of the time talking about Legan. They had consistently good form coming into the game, no question about that. They finished ahead of us in the league table in the championship but here in Ardagh we were expected to win the game. We had all that pressure to deal with. We found it tough and it took us the whole of the first half to realise we were in a real championship battle.”
Sunday is a bit of a grudge match for Ardagh after being defeated by Carrickedmond in the 2012 Intermediate championship: “It was Carrickedmond who knocked us out of the championship last year and we are delighted that we are competitive now. For years we weren’t competitive in the senior championship but the chance of winning a title is there now, although there will be very little in this game.”
Ardagh were considered one of the leading contenders to capture the Hennessy Cup this year but having been in football for so long the St. Patrick’s supremo Keenan knows it’s all about producing the performance on the day. “We were not that happy with our overall semi-final performance and hopefully we will produce our best form in peaking for the final. If we can achieve that then we will be hard beaten.”