Keith zips off

Photo: RTÉ

Our New Year glut of retirements continued today with the sad though not wholly unexpected announcement by Keith Higgins that his inter-county days are at an end. The official announcement of Keith’s retirement is here.

Keith Higgins was, by any measure, one of the greatest players ever to don the Green and Red jersey. A four-time All-Star as well as Young Footballer of the Year in 2006 – when he captained the county to U21 All-Ireland success – Keith performed at a consistently high standard for us at Senior level for fifteen years, during which time he made 90 National League appearances and 75 in the Championship.

It was back in February 2005, under the lights at Parnell Park up the road from here in Donnycarney on Dublin’s Northside, when Keith made his debut at inter-county level with the Senior team. I was at that League game, as I recall, on a cold night when we lost out by a single point.

Little did I realise, when Keith came on for David Heaney midway through the second half in that game, that this was the first appearance of a player who would go one to become one of the best we’ve ever had.

By that summer he’d made his Championship debut as well, lining out at corner-back in the semi-final against Roscommon at Hyde Park that June. From then on, he was pretty much an ever-present on the team.

One of my favourite Keith Higgins memories comes from early in his Senior career. That was on the memorable day when we shocked Dublin in the 2006 All-Ireland semi-final, a match in which the young Ballyhaunis clubman was given the task of picking up Dublin’s star forward Alan Brogan.

It was Brogan who kept taking the fight to us that day and Keith had a torrid seventy minutes on him. But one cameo late on in that game marked Keith out as a special talent.

Despite the battle he was having keeping tabs on Brogan, Keith threw caution to the wind and charged forward – his trademark lightning pace already evident – and took possession at speed from Ger Brady, making ground rapidly before offloading to Kevin O’Neill who fed Ciaran McDonald for the winning score. Here, watch it yourself:

Six years later, it was Keith who emerged from a thicket of players with the ball under his arm having claimed it on the line as Dublin sought despairingly for the goal they needed to bring the match to a replay. That certainly was a moment to savour too.

Photo: RTÉ

Keith’s battle for the ages with James O’Donoghue at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick was another high point. From a Mayo standpoint, we tend to focus on all the negative things that befell us that evening but the sight of two top-class players at the height of their powers going at each other hammer and tongs was a privilege to witness.

I wasn’t there in 2017 for his goal against Roscommon in the replayed All-Ireland quarter-final but did get to see the game from afar on GAA GO. I’ll never forget the way he suddenly took off, putting on the after-burners and bursting through the Roscommon backline before ramming the ball to the net.

But Keith had that kind of talent. He’d often be stationary when he’d take possession but he had that hare-like ability to bolt forward at blinding speed, leaving opponents flailing in his wake. It wasn’t for nothing that he earned the sobriquet ‘Zippy’.

Keith was an All-Star three years in a row – in 2012, 2103 and again in 2014 – and won his final award in 2017. He holds eight Connacht SFC medals and a National League medal as well as All-Ireland honours at U21 level.

He’s also, according to the Mayo News, the only Connacht player to win Interprovincial medals in both hurling and football. He’s the proud holder of a Rackard Cup medal from 2017 and seeing as today’s announcement only relates to football there must be at least some chance that he’ll continue to line out for the hurlers.

Photo: Balls.ie

Whatever Keith decides to do in that regard, his place in the ranks of all-time Mayo football greats is, of course, already assured. On so many big days for the county, Keith stood tall for us and, as supporters, we’re forever in his debt for that. Thanks for everything Keith and the best of luck to you and your family in future.

133 thoughts on “Keith zips off

  1. I have loved Keith Higgins as a player for many years. I admire him as a sportsman excellent in two codes. And although I don’t know him personally, I admire his character marked by tenacity, doggedness, relentlessness and a desire for excellence. I feel somewhat heartbroken at this retirement but oh so glad to have lived at a time to see him play. I wish Keith, his family and his Mayo teammates every happiness, and I hope his talent will be witnessed on the field in the coming years in whatever capacity that may be, as player, coach, mentor or more.

  2. What a player. Fellow clubman so always saw Keith as the lad from the town. Great servant to club and county. Always felt he was played out of position but Keith just got on with it. A real team player.
    Loved quiet lad from a lovely family.
    No fuss. No drama. Just always a class act.
    My brother was devastated when he heard today but Keith has done his service. I have no doubt he will play Hurling until he cant walk so we haven’t heard the last.
    That dressing room will miss Keith tho. What a player.
    When people ask where i am from and i reply Ballyhaunis its amazing the usual reply is Thats Keith Higgins club.
    So it is.
    Thanks again for everything Keith. Always a winner.

  3. The best I’ve ever seen play for Mayo. Felt he should been played more this year, hasn’t lost the pace. Smooth as silk with the ball in hand.

  4. I’m 99% that current Mayo players look at media or read the Western or the Mayp News/Blog but if by chance Keith does.. Thanks soo much for your Love ,Commitment, Sacrifices and courage you have shown over the years to our beloved Mayo .
    What a weird year .. Shocking figures in parts of Mayo . Lets hope the All Ireland final appearances in December didn’t lead to people asking the fuckin clown and put people in danger. Especially our elderly.
    Thanks Keith and stay safe everyone

  5. Now there’s a Legend. His duel with James O’Donoghue in All Ireland Semi in Limerick will remain etched in my memory as the greatest 1 on 1 duel of all time. Pure honest football from 2 great players which is what Gaelic Football should be all about. Thanks for the memories Keith. Legend

  6. Well another of our wonderful players steps away. One of the all time greats. There has been a huge outpouring for Keith tonight across social media (well deserved). Even his few lines announcing it was class. Like all his team mates he was very generous with his time to the fans. I am glad I got to see him play so often over the years.

  7. You rightly point out Keith’s role in McD’s legendary winning score in 2006 WJ, but even more impressive for me in that game was the block he made to deny an almost certain equaliser. Cillian O’Connor shared it on instagram if you have it:

    https://instagram.com/stories/oc14/2493119632052752144?igshid=z0uygyy7d8p6

    Then there’s the 2012 final whistle, just look at the joy, relief, elation:

    https://youtu.be/3_j6D-NzYT8?t=1005

    Days I’ll cherish for the rest of my life and Keith was a massive figure in those days. He has no celtic cross, but he’s no lesser a hero for it.
    There’s many lads with medals that will be forgotten when people still talk about what a great footballer Keith Higgins was.

  8. Thanks for everything Keith, he has a serious medal and awards haul to his name, pity he didn’t get the big one, he was better than most players that have several All Ireland’s to their name. I’d put Keith in our top 5 best ever players, pace, skill and strength. A true great. Let that be the last of the retirements now please.

  9. Zippy was possibly my favourite Mayo player.
    Of all the retirements this is the hardest to take although not unexpected.

  10. Absolutely gutted. Dont know why, when I seen the raft of retirements I was selfishly hoping zippy would stay on. Out of all the retirements I was hoping that he might give one more year. I haven’t been this disappointed about a retirement in years. A lot falls on leeroy and paddy as the elder states men in the back six. There was always something shocking genuine about Keith. Met him a couple of times outside of the football scene and he was a real likeable lad. I would have hurled against his brother as young lads and they were a great family of GAA people particularly his dad. I always felt Keith’s commitment to the mayo Jersey in both codes was unbelievable. I have said it in numerous times, when you see the skinning he got off brogan in 2006 AISF and to come back from that and become in my opinion one of the greatest players mayo ever had, its a measure of the man that he is. He always reminded me a lot of james nallen or Kevin cahill. No heirs or graces, just a “die with you boots on” player, the kind you would want going into battle. He tussels with JOD in 2014 and the 2012 semi final is the stuff i will be telling my grand kids about some day. Nothing more to say but thanks for the good days and the memories zippy and keep going with the small ball for another while.

  11. Loved watching this player, his skill, speed, guts and vision. Best wishes to Keith and his family.

  12. Its the end of an era for sure. Keith gave us some thrills as fans in the stand. Wishing him the very best of luck in the next chapter in his life.

  13. Best of luck Keith, as someone mentioned above, I am not sure that corner back was his best position but have to say that he definitely was one of my favourite players. I hope he does devote some time to hurling, he owes Mayo football fans nothing for his dedication and drive.

  14. Lovely tributes to Keith’s career.

    His tussle with O’Donoghue in Limerick was the best I’ve ever seen or ever will see.

    I can only say that our rebuilding will have to try and focus on improving on the other 14 positions on the pitch because I don’t think we are ever likely to see the likes of Keith again.

    Thanks Keith. You kept a County proud for the entirety of your career.

  15. – A Mayo footballing legend, nothing less.
    – Enjoy the next chapter in your life
    – Over to the youth, now is the time to step forward and step up
    – They have big boots indeed to fill….

  16. What a class act in both codes. Definitely thought he had another year and under utilised last year. A real thoroughbred but definitely not a man marker in the mould of Barrett or Keagan. As said above he was played out of position. If he wasn’t switched back in the 2013 final when Tom cunniffe got injured we would have won that day. He had Ger Brennan in all kinds of trouble and then we did them a favour and moved him. He was an attacking player, not a man marker. People mentioned the 2014 replay as being a highlight, it was a fatal mistake by Horan to leave him on o’donoghue, he was the wrong man for him, o’donoghue scored something like 3.3 that day but didn’t score in the final.
    Attacking he was a nightmare for the opposition and has 4 all stars which proves his class. How he wasn’t used more in 2020 is a mystery and how he brought on for Paddy Durcan a bigger mystery.
    Football’s is hopefully Mayo hurlers gain, he has 3 or 4 years in him and he can now enjoy his first love fully. Best of luck to Keith, 2nd only to Keegan in the last decade.

  17. Can never figure out in his 14/15yrs with Mayo why he was never played at wing back, he would have been in his element there, could easily have been as effective as Paddy Durcan or Keegan from that position, wasn’t tight enough for a corner back. What a player though, so versatile and great on the ball, never made a bad decision with it.

    Will be very interesting to see who Horan brings in next year to fill the gaps in defence, King, McBrien, Coyne and McCormack will be options, seems to rate McCormack highly in particular, he could be an option for midfield too.

    O’Hora, Coen, E O’Donoghue,
    Durcan, Keegan, E McLaughlin

    That would be my starting defence. Kevin McLoughlin, Boyle and the lads named above would provide good back up options. Hopefully Mullin can be a middle third option as we badly badly need at least 2 additions in midfield.

  18. Good luck Keith in your retirement. Like many others 14 versus o Donoghue is a highlight for me and hard to believe a game where he concedes 12pts turns out to be one of the games he’s remembered for in a positive way.

  19. We all have a fair idea of the road travelled and games played by Keith for Mayo in the football, but with his commitment to hurling is he the most senior represented intercounty player when both codes are thrown in?
    The longevity of his career in hurling since he made his intercounty Senior debut as an U16 player in 2001, must put him near the top player appearance wise when both codes are considered. There aren’t many public stats available on his hurling career, but l will have a stab at his hurling appearances in Senior hurling.
    Over the past 19 years, he has committed to the hurlers about 10 seasons. Given the way the old All-Ireland Junior (2003), SeniorB (2004), Ring (2005-2015) and Rackard Cup (2016-2020) ran down through the years, the average amount of championship games per season would be about 4. So in Senior Hurling Intercounty Championship, the estimate would be about 40 appearances (Maybe more – open to correction).
    Throw in the NHL for these 10 seasons at an average of 6 games per season and we are up to 60.
    So between Championship and League my estimate would be around the 100 games. Add that to the 150+ games with the footballers and you have well over 250 Senior Intercounty Championship/League appearances. I don’t think there’s anyone else in the country with them numbers. Cluxton is at 220 over the last 20 seasons, but I cant think of anyone else who would come close to that.

    Now at club hurling level, he has won 12 SHC titles in the past 19 years. Some record there as well. Never a quiet weekend for him for the last 20 years.

  20. Best of luck to Keith on his retirement a very classy player gave all to the cause and was never found wanting Zippy will be missed. It saddens me to see all these brillant servants to Mayo football retire without an all ireland senior medal. When these lads didn’t win Sam I genuinely cannot see us winning Sam in the next 10 years as we gave lost some serious quality and dedicated servants. Time to salute our heroes and be patient and realistic for the next year or two at least

  21. An absolutely brilliant player for us Certainly not the traditional corner back, he always played from the front. That sometimes caused us some alarming moments but not anything like the alarm he caused opponents as he flew up the field on those fantastic runs He personified the Mayo team for ten years, swashbuckling,dashing, daring and risk taking. The attacking moments our defenders have produced have been amazing. Think of the forward forays of Barrett, Boyle Keegan, Vaughan ,Durcan etc and and how they got you up off your seat as they drove forward. And Keith was the speediest of them all. On this cold January morning it’s hard to be optimistic about too much and seeing the waft of retirements by these great players just adds to the gloom. Thanks Keith. You were super.

  22. No Doubt, O’Donaghues tally that day in 2014 included two penalties so I dont think it’s fair to say Keith conceded 12 puts to him.

  23. Was sure we would have Keith for this year but he must have had the chat and called it a day. Definitely the hardest one to take as a lingering feeling that he was not given every chance to make maximum use of his extraordinary pace and athleticism by being positioned at corner back. We all know he was not a man marker and longed for the open expanses further out the field. But it’s a team sport so you play where the manager tells you. Keith always gave 100% and there was always electricity in the crowd when he took the ball and went on one of his trademark runs. What an example to the younger players on and off the field.
    Thanks for the memories Keith.

  24. Sad to see him go, he should have got time in final this year in last quarter. Great player all his career but was played out of position, never was a corner back, what could he have done from half backline. Mayo still making same mistake , playing Keegan as a corner back and he will never be good or happy there. Play men in their best positions or not at all.

  25. A true Mayo great, one of my favourite memories of Zippy was the 2017 AI replay when Bernard Brogan was about to kick a crucial score with the game still in the melting pot and Keith stretched every sinew to make a fantastic block injuring himself in the process by giving his all. Then while he was laying on the ground injured a Mayo player passed him the ball and he passed it back while lying on his back, it was just an iconic moment in my opinion and summed up what the man was all about. Wishing him the best I will miss him greatly.

  26. This is the hardest one to take.

    My favourite player for over a decade. Anytime I was asked. My answer immediately, ‘Keith Higgins’.

    Absolutely loved the guy.

    End of an era but the Mayo story will always keep rolling and we must use what Zippy and his crew did as a launchpad, a benchmark. Refuse to allow standards slip and this is a very important point to make because its us as Mayo supporters people who influence this. There must be a demand and determination to always be at the ‘top table’ and if we are then we’ll start winning All Irelands. Winning one would be great but for such a football mad county with the tradition and pedigree we have, there has to be a serious desire to emulate what Kerry have been doing forever. There is absolutely zero reason why Mayo cannot become a consistent powerhouse in GAA.

    If we fall back into the pack for any sustained period (and by this I mean for more than 2/3 years) then all the hard work done by Keith, Andy, Clarkey, Chrissie etc will have been in vain.

    So, whatever club you are with in Mayo, bring that mindset to it. We are in a new place psychologically than we were 10 years ago. We now expect success. Do NOT let it drop. Ever.

  27. Best of luck Keith,
    What a class footballer the best burst of pace I have ever seen. Wishing you all the best.

  28. Sad to hear that Keith has called it a day. He was always one of my favourites. Just that electric take off with ball in hand was one of footballs finest sights. He’ll be missed.
    An absolute gent as well. I remember seeing him in the pub in New York after we played them a couple of years ago. He gave his time to anyone who wanted a chat or a picture, mingling with the crowd the whole afternoon. Always with a smile on his face.
    Just one of life’s good guys. All the best zippy.

  29. For the record, as well as 2 penalties James O Donoghue was a Kerry free taker and I think Gooch was out with cruciate that year. One of the goals was Donaghy, Keith actually blocked JOD’s shot so his return was small in 90+ minutes. Keith won that duel.

  30. Mayo have been fortunate to have had many great stalwarts over the past 15 years but for me zippy was the best. Loved his skill, pace, leadership, honesty and so much more.
    Enjoy your retirement from inter county football Keith, you deserve it but I will miss your future presence both on the team and the pitch. One of the greatest!

  31. Leaves the jersey in a better place than he got it. Has raised the standard for any defender that wants to play for Mayo.

    When he was on it, there was no match for him in Ireland. A magnificent player.

  32. That’s correct, Shuffly – of the 2-6 O’Donoghue scored in that game, 2-2 came from placed balls so it was four from play he got in a match that went to extra-time. JO’D won Footballer of the Year that year too. It was a man-on-man battle that, for those who witnessed it, is something that would be impossible to forget.

  33. The Ballyhaunis Comet.

    He was a blistering lightening bolt
    Did all standing upright
    The Comet from Haunis
    When he’d hit full flight.

    I wondered while watching him
    Did his boots touch the ground ?
    Or did he glide by those players
    Without making a sound ?

    Or did the grass even bend
    Beneath Zippy’s feet ?
    Watching him move
    Like a white lightening sheet.

    When our defense were locked down
    And our backs to the wall
    The Lock down was broken
    We’d give Zippy the ball.

    Unassuming and humble
    With that Comet like pace
    He announced his retirement
    With his usual grace.

    So thank you for sharing your incredible gifts
    For allowing us watch you through all your gear shifts.
    From the first day the joy that your skills had awoken
    You’ll be remembered forever when football is spoken.

  34. One of the best Mayo players ever. Mile buiochas to Keith and indeed to all the other legends who have announced their retirements. They were all great loyal players who gave it everything. No doubt JH will have to rebuild but Keith, Donnie, Tom, Chris, Seamie and David will be hard acts to follow! Go neiri libh i gconai
    Mhuigeo abu!

  35. The day we played Cork in Ennis was the day I realised what a magnificent footballer Keith was. A true gentleman off the field and the best Mayo defender I have seen on the field. Could play the game anywhere in defence as far as I am concerned. His list of his accolades and major events speak for themselves. Next man in the number 4 position has big boots to fill Thanks Keith for some truly great days on the road.

  36. As a cork man living In ballyhaunis and was involved in hurling with all teams Keith played on had the privilege pleasure of bringing a underage team to bishoptown where had players like shane o neills Ken o hallaron pat Cronin after a game we where in the club house house when it was announced that shane o neills and Keith Higgins where the stand out players in that game and hot a mention after the football game . All you had to do was asked keith for a Jersey to give to the most improved player no bother to him and he even turned up to present it himself that’s what stands out about keith a pure class player of both codes and a gentleman of it your a legend in mayo and my friends in cork allwas mention you now to watch you for a few more years playing hurling very prod to know you

  37. Sad to see all the retirees go without All Ireland. On the plus side it gives new guys a real opportunity. Big, big boots to fill

  38. Best of luck to Keith and all the other Mayo players who have just retired. In any other era they would be walking away with 2/3 celtic crosses each but unfortunately the best football team of all time stood in their way.
    However, they have raised the stature of Mayo football, from being a laughing stock after the Longford defeat in 2010, to arguably being the most respected team in the country over the last 10 years. They have restored pride to Mayo football and laid the foundations for eventual victory in the next 2/3 years. Thank you lads, wishing you all health and happiness long into the future.

  39. Outside of 2013 did he ever actually start a game outside of corner back? I always felt he should have been used exclusively in the HB line since then, his ball carrying and electrifying pace were huge assets to have going forward and he wasn’t nearly as tight a marker as Cunniffe, Barrett and later Harrison

    He had a phenomenal season in 2013 at centre forward, there’s no doubt in my mind that repositioning him to corner back in the final cost us that all ireland

    Anyhow the very best of luck to him. Not a lad you’d see much of in the media or doing interviews etc. always struck me as someone who was solely focused on the job in hand, without any fuss. Hopefully he can be a huge asset to the hurlers in the coming years -and i’m sure he’ll still be a key player for his club at both codes for years to come yet.

    In all honesty I personally wouldn’t have been as OTT in the superlatives for some who bowed out recently(from all counties), but KH definitely was a genuine true ‘legend’ of the game

    Similar to the likes of Marc O’Se and Seamus Moynihan the best tribute you could pay is that he was a crucial part of his sides most successful days, despite being technically played out of position throughout his career

  40. Great and well deserved comments above.
    Thank you Keith. Wishing you and yours a wonderful retirement.
    You were certainly one in a million.
    I hoped you’d get a run in this years final, but no. No more on that.

    That famous duel with James O’Donaghue in Limerick should be compulsory study for any aspiring intercounty player, defender or attacker. Pure class football from two class players. All so clean and fair.
    Well done Keith.
    Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
    We who have witnessed will never forget.

  41. When Gooch was asked about his most difficult opponents he name checked Keith. Is there need to say any more

  42. All the best Keith and all who retired recently. Keith was an exceptional footballer from the get go and who can forget the day he led us to an all ireland u21 title in Ennis. Enjoy your retirement

    I see Brolly kissing the dublin lads arses again on the indo social media pages. Does anyone in mayo still buy or subscribe to that rag? I see he has been called out for his absolute bullshit story…Mr Brolly has no problem slating our lads during the season or when they retire but yet I belive the same Mr Brolly spends alot of time in Mayo.

  43. For me, pace is what distinguishes wonderful footballers from great footballers. It’s the potential that excites and boy didn’t Keith Higgins leave us with fulfilled potential. Keith, thank you for the wonderful occasions, for your superb sportsmanship, for your happy demeanour and for all the sacrifices you made over the years for your county – it will take so many of us Mayo followers quite a time to let you go.h?

  44. Ciaran – Rochford used him in the half forward line for the 1st few games of the 2016 championship, while Kevin McLoughlin was playing sweeper. He was back corner back for the end of the championship however.

    I always thought number 7 would be his best position but we had Keegan, Boyle, Vaughan and later paddy Durcan to play half back. There’s probably a similar situation now where we’ve so few corner backs, Keegan has moved back.

  45. Absolutely beyond question, Kieth Higgins, one the best players and sportsmen from any County in Ireland this entire 21st Century… Magic on the ball, such pace, control and skill… Wishing him well in his retirement from the game…I remember the point he scored v Roscommon back about 7 or 8 years ago into the Albany End in Mchale Park, a blistering mazy followed by a terrific finish, another amazing goal of pace, power, control and skill V the Rossies in Croke Park, .. magnificent Goals v Tyrone one in Healy Park two years ago, and another firing in off the crossbar this time into the Bacon Factory end goal again V Tyrone, the lung bursting run up the playing the ball to Kevin O Neil,..K O Neil to McDonald, and McD with the finish in 2006 V Dublin, and Keith came out with the ball again when Dublin tried vain to score an equalizer in the All Ireland semifinal of 2012… This guy had so many highlights, impossible to mention but a small fraction…

  46. Haha thankfully those early 2016 matches appear to have been well wiped from my memory Wideball 😉 😀 but interesting nonetheless… sadly the forward experiment only seemed to work in 2013. it was tried again in the league aswell i think in 2014 and didnt work at all if I remember correctly

    Yep that Brolly article was pure cringe but in fairness overall i have such respect for McAuley and think he was actually one of Dublin’s most important players of this era (no bad feat for someone with extremely limited technical ability). His performances against us in the 2nd half of 2012 and the 2016 replay still give me shudders. He nearly singlehandedly roped us back in in 2012, if Brogan had buried that goal chance…

    Good lesson for younger players as to what hard work can achieve. His performance v Kerry in 2013 was one of the best individual showings of the decade

  47. Ciaran……Uve just reminded me about 2012…..I was there in the lower Hogan, we were about 10 points up against the Dubs and cruising… Next thing MDM is sprung from the bench and led a resurge against the green n red….. Unbelieveable the way he influenced the game from his arrival….they made it back to 8 I think and we won by 2…….I have serious respect for Macauley since then…… a great player….

  48. Macauley was on from the start that day, MartyK, but it was only after the break – once Kevin McLoughlin went off after a clash of heads, he had been playing puck with them up till then – that he came into it. You’re right, though, that he dragged them single-handedly back into that game. We couldn’t handle him at all once he got motoring. He was a super player for them over the last decade, in particular in those early years when they made the breakthrough first.

  49. I’ve already paid my tribute to Keith, very sorry to see him go, he could easily have played 2021.
    Boyler is sticking around, a bit of good news at last. His experience must be used, we all know it’s not a 70 minute game we will get from Colm anymore but he definitely could do a serious half and close down a big name on the opposing team.

  50. Of all the players to pull the plug. This one hurts the most. One of the greats. An absolute inspiration. Not only in what he has done on the field but what he has said in interviews as well..An absolute legend.
    A salute to one of the greats.

  51. A person said to be recently- it must be very hard been a Mayo supporter the last 10 years. I said to him the 30 years before that were a lot worse. I also said that we have had a great 10 years – the drama, close games, replays, extra times, great wins, disappointing losses – no other county has experienced that over last 10 years.
    Thanks to Zippy and the other great players who made it happen. Long may it continue.

  52. It’s a pity that Brollys name should come up when we are honouring one of the greatest Mayo players that have graced the football fields of Ireland.
    Keith Higgins will always be remembered as a gentleman, a stylist and one of the best duel players
    of his time.
    We had Jack Chartlon living in Ballina for years, a great character fisherman World Cup winner and showed the utmost respect to the people of Ballina, now we are stuck with this gobshite from the North who gets his kicks from insulting our outstanding football team.
    Ignore him for what he is,a prick.
    He should go back to the hole he crawled out of concentrate his energies there.

  53. Keith one of the greatest and stylish footballers of all times, pure style and class with ball in hand. Best of luck and health to you and your family in the future. Thanks Keith.

  54. Malachy Clerkin has a great piece about Keith in the Irish Times – here. In the piece he references Keith’s hurling record and in a tweet afterwards he said that Adrian Hession, the Mayo hurling PRO, had contacted him to confirm Keith’s hurling match stats, which he then used to update the article. The numbers in the piece corroborate the estimate Highking posted here – he said Keith’s total for football and hurling would be around 250 and Malachy Clerkin puts it at 256. That’s phenomenal commitment on Keith’s part and he most likely hasn’t finished with the hurlers yet either.

  55. Funnily enough, he also said in that article that he didn’t get the nickname Zippy from the children’s tv character – he actually did!

  56. A total player, speed, skills and silk. I’ll miss him so much. So glad I got the opportunity to see his likes and the absolute thrill of supporting this Mayo team. Thank you Keith. Thanks for the super memories. Always Mayo…go deo!

  57. A true legend. Those bursts upfield, so stirring, so thrilling; they’ll live in the memory for a long long time. They were bursts that were pitch perfect, often coming when we were pure crap, messing about, missing scores, turning over. Then Keith would decide something had to be done and begin one of his sallies, which usually led to a score, often by himself, and often a goal. Back on track.

    Our newbies are good, very good, but the jerseys they have to fill will take some time.

  58. Catcol
    It was on Midwest radio website today and still is. I only said it because it was a bit of good news. Boyler is another of the favourites of Mayo fans everywhere, a mighty bit of stuff.

  59. That’s a lovely article from Malachy Clerkin. He gives hurling it’s fair dues in it too.

    It would be great if Colm Boyle stays. A great man to have around the set up for the younger lads finding their feet.

    I often wonder at what courage it takes to come back after serious injuries. We saw some of the lads suffer what were classed at the time as near career ending injuries, but the number of them that got themselves right, and back out on the pitch again is hard to believe.

    How much courage did it take for Tom P to contest balls again after his horrific injury and Colm and Seamie and Mattie and Cillian has had his fair share right back to Andy in 2012.

    I shudder at the amount of rehab and training it must take to get back again to inter county standard after some of those injuries.

  60. Any word on Horans panel for the new season, with the retirements a few vacancies to be filled.

  61. No word, Culmore. Announcement expected on 31st January if and when collective training can resume.

  62. Thanks for correction of that point in my piece above WJ……..Not often Mayo go into a 10 point lead against the Dubs but MDM certainly put the frights on us that day…. stunning display……but we still won !

  63. What a Lovely footballer. I always expected something special when Keith joined the Attack Thank Keith for the great memories down through the year best of lucky health and happiness in the future

  64. Once in a generation, he’s irreplacable, but who do we look to now? Was Eoin O’Donoghue injured this year, I’d imagine he’d be in that team otherwise? Will McBrien get a few more looks? Big on check list has to be finding a settled full back line … I know we have other problems, but we need a full back line that is comfortable in that line.

  65. Once in a generation, he’s irreplacable, but who do we look to now? Was Eoin O’Donoghue injured this year, I’d imagine he’d be in that team otherwise? Will McBrien get a few more looks? Big on check list has to be finding a settled full back line … I know we have other problems, but we need a full back line that is comfortable

  66. There is another lad from Ballyhaunis been mentioned as a corner back – Jason Coyne. I think he was u20 last year. Would also expect o Hora and Eoin o Donoghue plus hopefully Brendan Harrison as full back line options.

  67. OK so best guess at squad for league then? (leaving out Harrison and Doherty who are out for few months yet). Are we looking at something from the following? Any newbies I’m missing? Full back line looks worryingly green

    Goalkeeper:
    Reape, bryne, jennings

    Fullback line:
    EoD, o’hora, mullin, mcbrien, coyne, king

    Half back:
    Durcan, brickenden, e mclaughlin, Boyle, s coen, keegan

    Midfield:
    Murray, Loftus, ruane, flynn, diarmuid

    Half forward :
    Kev, mcdonagh, boland, Mark Moran, r’o donoghue, McHale

    Full forward:
    Cillian, towey, AOS, d coen, Carr, orme

  68. Think I’ve heard his name pop up a few times @Southmayo Exile, no harm having options there for sure and you’d imagine James will give him a shot, as its definitely a position we’re shot on.
    Having O’Hora tried out there more this year will only benefit the squad, he’s tough as nails. He tried out James McCormack as a full back also, but I’d personally prefer to see him tried out in midfield if he’s fully fit.

  69. James Durkin and M.Plunkett both came on in recent AI final so James obviously feels they also will figure in the season ahead.

  70. Supermac, think you forgot tommy Conroy in the full forward line, think another year will again see a big improvement in his play.

  71. completely forgot about conroy, of course he will be a key player this year after a stellar first year

  72. Something really sad about seeing so many of our heroes, our golden boys of summer, retiring now. It’s like great actors at a final performance taking their bows and leaving the stage. A Farewell to Arms.

  73. Would like to see Conor Diskin, Cian Hanley and Conor O’Shea all get chances in the League this year. All have potential to fill the huge void in Midfield with Tom Parsons and Seamie gone.

  74. why is nobody picking BRYAN WALSH he looked good in the connacht final, i hope he is not gone anywhere or injured.

  75. Diskin and Hanley are not midfielders but Conor O’Shea deserves a shot. He seems much more comfortable in midfield than as a forward.

  76. Bryan Walsh is very underrated scored 2 points from Play against Galway in Connacht final think he was injured for Tipperary and Dublin games. Would still like to see Peter Naughton the most accurate forward in the County in my opinion, also Sharoize Akram could offer something with his pace.

  77. i would add BRYAN WALSH to that list, he looked good in the connacht final. i hope he is not gone anywhere .

  78. Congrats Keith on a great career for Mayo. Thanks a million for all the fantastic memories. Enjoy your retirement and the Hurling.

  79. Peter Naughton is on the Sligo panel so he Won’t be playing with Mayo unfortunately. I agree with Jr we need defenders to concentrate on their job which is primarily to defend its all well and good raiding up the field but you have to be able to defend too. Those 2 goals we conceded in the all ireland final were complete sickners especially the first one after 13 seconds I’ll never forget the look on Dean Rocks face he couldn’t believe it was that easy to score a goal in an all ireland final. Oisin Mullin is and will be a great footballer but he’s not a defender I would play him in midfield.

  80. Backdoorsam…. Oisin did excellent playing in defence this year .. Think you’ll find that goal came from midfield and one of our key players got burnt for pace and opened up the middle for Dublin

  81. Is it not Jack Coyne?

    Also regarding panels, surely our injury returnees must be a focus of attention: Jason Doc, Brendan Harrison, and of course Boyler (assuming that Mid West report is correct). Fully fit, these three have big roles to play this year.

    Also, what is the thinking on Gavin Durcan, Barry Duffy (favourably mentioned by JP), and that young Ballina guy Frank Irwin? And, talking of Ballina, where has Ciarán Tracey gone?

  82. One of the problems this year for players who are very close to a county panel – there will be no club football before county football this year for players to impress county management.
    It was complete opposite last year where players were called into county panels on the strength of club championship

  83. I just can’t understand how Peter Naughton was let slip through the net last year with his size and strength and his ability to find the posts, and I believe he can take a free kick, could be valuable if Cillian picks up another injury

  84. Hav to agree with the previous post about Peter naughton. I think this will come back to haunt us. A guy with two feet and knows where the posts are is invaluable. There’s not in big supply in mayo.

  85. Good point Southmayo Exile. If county goes ahead first, it’s difficult to see many newbies outside of extended panel/development squads or lads who were involved in underage panels from last year. The league might not even be played at this rate. So the shop window is narrowing all the time. Having said that, James has to replace the guys who have hung up the boots, so there will be new faces. I hope the potential call ups have been doing their s&c!!

    Any podcasts coming out soon Willie Joe?

  86. U20 championship starting 10th April, some u20 players who could get call up to senior panel or development panel
    Luke Jennings, Kieran King, Oisin Tunney, Aidan Cosgrove, Eoghan McHale, Rory Keane, Enda Hession, Jack Carney, Ethan Henry, Frank Irwin, Conal Dempsey, Jack Mahon, Paddy Heneghan.

  87. Agreed with Catcol regarding Barry Duffy, looked very good in the championship against some strong opposition, has the height and athleticism could make a difference, Intermediate championship had lot of good young midfielders this year in Evan O Brien Ballinrobe, Nathan Moran Hollymount and Sean Walsh Kiltimagh. Pat Chambers Burrishoole is another who was injured. From the U20’s this year Jack Carnery Kilmeena, Frank Irwin Ballina, and the Knockmore pair Adam Naughton and Connell Dempsey not to mention Ethan Henry Mayo Gaels.

    Would like to see Akram and Cian Hanley brought back in and maybe Kuba Callaghan as well. if Naughton is out of bounds then King and Orme the standouts for knockmore, Colm Moran Westport as well. I also like the look of Conor Dunleavy from Balla, U20 this year as he took care of a lot of seasoned campaigners last year, a standout for Balla. Aaron O Donnell Ballinrobe is a good halfback prospect and is Donavon Cosgrove Kiltimagh worth a look in the fullback line.
    Goalkeeping, I expect Hennelly will still be involved but Luke Jennings Ballinrobe looks like a top prospect, Great kickout like Colm Reape, I suppose the only only options are Matthew Flanagan Balla and young McNicholas Kiltimagh. Paddy o Malley Westport is still with Roscommon.

  88. with all the retirements from panel what’s wanted most is new faces for Goal keeper, Full Back and Centerfield, there doesn’t seem to be anyone on the present squads to fill these important positions so new faces are required.

  89. There was 41 on the panel for the All-Ireland final. We were only allowed to have 32. When you take the 6 retirees out of it, we still have a panel of 35. Cant see many more being called in except maybe 2 keepers to back up Hennelly. That will bring us up to 37 which is still well over the quota. Especially when theres no club action to get noticed, I cant see any grounds to bring in more. Unless there is an exceptional player coming out of the U20s who couldn’t commit last year.

  90. Culmore, a lot of names mentioned by MayoMessi and others. Adam Gallagher was another promising prospect a few years ago and maybe like Darren Coen there’s a part 2 to his Mayo career at some stage.

    Most are talking about filling central positions but Full Back is the most pivotal. I would think Mullen could play anywhere but FB is a problem area for most teams and we’re no exception with no big imposing athletic guy there for a long time. Andy Moran mentioned McBrien from Ballagh is 6’2″ and fast so he’s a possibility. Barry Duffy is big and athletic, plays midfield for the club but was FB and CHB at Minor/U21 levels for Mayo. All our FBs for the last decade had some good attributes but big fast and strong is the best 3. Most had enough pace but were not big enough. The 2 best in the Country in the last decade were Magee and Rory O’ Carroll pre sabbatical. Both were fairly big but also fast and both good at spoiling. Aido did destroy Magee on one occasion but no one destroyed O’ Carroll. Sean Andy was a great prospect for Galway until he overdid the Gym and lost some mobility. It’s a thankless position. Our best bet apart from Mullen is a fully fit Harrison and even then he’s not even all that big. Another option is sacrifice Eoghan MacLoughlin’s wing pace and use him. That frees up Mullen for midfield if we need him there. Tyrone back in the day sacrificed Cormac McAnallen who was a top midfielder but was an even better FB. Needs must. If all else fails, I’d say find the fastest midfielder who can tackle a bit and doesn’t have to be the best footballer in the County, let others tear up the pitch and mould him into a FB. As for midfield, I’d be inclined to move Diarmaid back there as we have an endless list of half forwards itching for a chance, Moran, Walsh, Boland, McDonagh, Treacy, Hanley to name just a few and Ryan OD looks like nailing CHF after finding his feet so quickly. That means Mullen mostly stays in the backs at least for another year anyway. The final option for FB is Diarmaid who can probably play anywhere on the pitch and works like a dog no matter where he’s picked. That option means we do give Mullen the chance to play midfield. Final final option is David Drake who was club player of the year recently enough and a tough player he is too. Guessing he’s still on the scene. We got to be thinking you could stay with the Country’s best FF who is probably Clifford with Con OC a close enough 2nd.

  91. Lee Keegan is probably the highest scoring defender in championship history. He showed flashes of his best football again in the final and for me has to be played in the half back line this year. I don’t believe he should be shackled by sticking him in the full back line.

    Paddy Durcan is worth 2 to 3 points a game so another man that has to played in the half backs.

    Oisín Mullin ? Was winning aerial ball in midfield in the final. Another man that I believe cannot be left in the full back line. I wouldn’t have him any further back than half back.

    So for me those 3 definitely not for the full back line.

    Eoin Mcglouglin. Great engine. Covers acres of ground but he hasn’t really been popping over the points. Back to the full back line.

    Stephen Coen. Great honest footballer. Always puts in a full shift but not a finisher. For me not in the half back line. Back to the full back line.

    Eoin O’Donoghue has done well for us in the past so maybe he could be considered for cornerback or full back.

    I know others have mentioned Drake and how well he played in the championship so another to consider for the full back line.

    I’d have Mattie Ruane and Diarmuid O’Connor at midfield with Oisín Mullin close enough to midfield to contest kickouts.

    Connor Loftus in the half forward line and dropping deeper towards midfield for ball distribution.

    The full forward line the same Tommy, Cillian and Aidan.

    Kevin Mcglouglin is always a starter so that leaves the likes of Ryan O’Donoghue, James Carr, Fionn Mcdonagh and a host of others fighting for a half forward spot.

    I don’t know who our goalie will be this year and our full back line will be a new line.

    My big hope is that I don’t see either Paddy, Lee or Oisín played in the full back line. They just offer too much further out the field.

    I wish I knew as much about some of the other players as mayomessi. How many games do you manage to watch in a normal year mayomessi ?

  92. Thanks for everything Keith. You will be remembered as one of the best to ever play the game, not only in Mayo, but in the entire country.

  93. The man I’d play at full back is aiden o shea. He is not a forward nor has he pace for midfield. Let him finish out his career as full back. He on the panel since 09 and all managers never really found his best position. I reckon full back would suit him. Protect the goal. Man the defence. Close the door through the middle where we get scalded year in year out

  94. Re: Spectre. You have made a good point about Aido at full back. With a new goalie or Hennelly back at no 1 we need a huge presence at number 3. Remember the job Aido did on Donaghey in AI semi final replay. This could prolong his football career by 2 or 3 more years. Plenty of options now in Full forward line. Conroy, Cillian, Carr, Coen, and hopefully a fully fit Jason. Move Mullen to midfield.

  95. Aidan full back… Are ye on the wind up?

    Pretty much every county has a 2 man full forward line now so the traditional big number 3 doesn’t really exist. The most important trait for playing in the full back line is agility to stay close to a forward. Aidan doesn’t have that and neither does Stephen Coen. Eoghan McLaughlin isn’t a good enough defender to play in the full back line either.

    I don’t have a problem with Lee staying corner back. All things considered, he did well last year and with Barrett retired an experienced head is needed back there.

  96. I would play Aiden at centre half back. Let him hold the middle and let Durkan/Keegan or whatever wing backs boom forward , he is a great tackler and could man the square for 45s etc. or when there was a big full forward on opposing team. As said above he is not a scoring forward and has not the pace and stamina for midfield anymore.
    Worth a try for a few in house games.

  97. Question. Why have the 6 starting Mayo forwards contributed so little between them to the scoreboard from open play in All Ireland finals (particularly in the 2nd half) on so many occasions since 89? Can anybody answer that?

    Willie Joe, we could do with a big debate on here about that.

    2nd question. If we reach the final again this year, will we once again have a man at 14, who has played in six finals and never scored anything in any of them? Would that happen in Dublin or Kerry?

  98. I would be worried about our “squad depth” if we are moving established players into the full back line…don’t think Aidan would fair out too well against a Con O’Callaghan, David Clifford etc. Eoghan McLaughlin is not an inside man marker, I’ve seen him enough of times for Westport and he is not that player, leave him where he is. Hard to know about Stephen Coen, thought he faired out quite well at Centre back, we need a stronger stopper in that position.

    How old is Barry Duffy? By the looks of things Seamus Cunniffe hasn’t developed in the way we had hoped.

    We don’t see too many out and out full backs these days because there aren’t too many out and out Full Forwards that last the full game playing inside, speed is as much a plus as having height.

    I hope to god Eoin O’Donoghue gets back to where he looked like he was going in 2018, thought he looked the real deal at corner back, the same is for Padraig O’Hora. I don’t mind Keegan back there, but I’d prefer to see him at 5 or 7, the same goes for Mullen. Hopefully we can get no. 1 and the full back line sorted over this season…whenever it stars

  99. Barry Duffy is 23 or turning 24. David McBrien or Oisin Tunney are our best full back options for the future.
    Oisin Mullen is completely wasted in the full backline.
    The time is coming where we need to be thinking one strong half in the second half from Leeroy and Aidan they can’t do 75 mins of intensity. We are fading on second halves with no bench.
    Cian Hanley and Shairoze Akram can’t be ignored for start to finish all action speed and stamina.
    Aidan Orme if involved is simply a level above most of our forwards with huge athleticism.
    Fringe players who have rarely delivered it’s time to move them on and refresh the panel with new, younger players that have pace.
    Get in plenty u19s-22s starting and panel, continue the transition, in fact increase the transition.

  100. Mayo minor full back in 2019. He wasn’t playing for the Breaffy seniors last year from what I remember, so probably one for the future more so than 2021.

  101. Spot on JP, to build a strong bench the management will have to be clever how they use players and take risks when necessary…having the likes of Leeroy coming on in the second half is the type of re-energising that we havent had in big games previously.

    Also agree on the two mentioned Ballagh lads, I always had big hopes for them.

  102. For any if he into Mathematics or graphs. If you can imagine the winning of the game is about having the better overall performance graph over a timeline of roughly 78 mins in total. Our graph dipping several % below Dublin and increasingly so throughout the second half is a big proportion of why we lose. With the gps acceleration measuring ability now, it is possible to know the speed levels at which certain players are effective and the team overall.

  103. Catcol, Oisin Tunney is old style uncompromising full back of 2019 minor team but still only 18. Didn’t feature for Breaffy much last year due to injury.
    He had 3 great battles with Galway’s Tomo Culhane in that minor campaign & more than held his own. Culhane was man of the match in last year’s u-20 final v Dublin . A different kind of player…but who knows how they will develop .

  104. Catcol Oisin Tunney was picked at full back on electric Ireland minor team of year in 2019, he was carrying an ankle injury for most of that season. If injury free he should be on senior panel this year.

  105. Thanks there posters, very useful information. Good to see the work going on, as late as 2am, and as early as 7:15am!

  106. Wide Ball, so where would you play Aido? Against the big guns and in later stages of the AI, his scoring rates are very poor. Not pacey enough for midfield or CHB. That just leaves the full back line.

  107. If Aido is not fast enough for midfield or chb – he certainly wont be fast enough for full back on the fast surface of Croke Park. Only time you could play him full back is against someone like Donaghy – physically big strong player with no pace. There are very few of these type of full forwards around now.

  108. As mentioned already it might be no harm to start looking at Aido at a horses for courses approach to the extent where he is left in reserve for a big second half in certain games. I would be suggesting the same for Leeroy and Kevin Mc, Jason Doc as well if he makes it back.

    I could get it thrown back at me that we need the players of their quality to start before we can have that conversation, but we aren’t miles away from that position. Getting some of our central positions specialised will be a starting point for that. Need to act fast otherwise we’ll have just as many retirements after this season with no players to replace them.

  109. dooniver swifts – As was said above, if Aidan isn’t quick enough for midfield in your opinion then he’s not suitable for full back where speed over the first 5 yards is vital.

    I’d keep Aidan at full forward. He takes a lot of attention in there and IMO was a big reason for Cillian’s form last season. In an ideal world he’d contribute more to the scoreboard. I’m not a fan of the advanced mark but while it’s there Aidan should be able to get a couple of tap over points a game, so long as we work on it in training.

    Also, I don’t see an obvious replacement full forward if he’s left on the bench. Darren Coen, James Carr, James Durcan… don’t think any of them are screaming out to start. Maybe Jason Doherty if he comes back to his best.

  110. Would still be fairly confident that James Carr would fit into Full Forward, given a bit more time. He goes for the jugular and with more game time I’d be hopeful that he’d improve with accuracy. He’s a big guy also … time will tell whether he can make the break.

  111. Problem for me is that Carr made the break last year, but doesn’t seem to have kicked on. Niggling injuries maybe?

  112. Did hear some mention about injuries alright, I think last season is hard to judge, though he would want to be getting into that first 15 this year if he is to be that key man inside. I just think a player like Carr is more of a natural scorer … we could have a fairly fluid scoring line with Cillian and Tommy either side.

    Our half forward line does need a bit of looking at, but you’d imagine Diarmuid (if he doesn’t go to midfield) and Ryan are nailed on there if they keep up form. Right half forward spot is up for grabs given that Kev Mc might be held in reserve next season, hopeful that Fionn McDonagh can make a return. Would be interesting also to see if Conor Loftus gets a few trials further up front than this year.

  113. Wide ball, I agree with most of what you say but with Hennelly or a rookie keeper now a reality we need a strong presence in the full back line. With Barrett gone and Harry out for the foreseeable, a rookie full back line will be a disaster. Mullin and Leeroy are not natural full backs and are need further out the field. They pose a greater threat to the opposition on the scoreboard than Aido. Carr is a natural forward and needs real game time not cameos of 5 or 10 minutes.

  114. I don’t think any of the fringe forwards over the last two years have showed enough. That’s quite a bit of match data. Time to renew with new and younger options.

  115. Would all outside of the starting six forwards in last year’s final (barring Doc) be in that bracket?

  116. @Quayman, I’ll be specific with reasoning to give some background to the point. I don’t think any of James Carr, Darren Coen or James Durcan have shown enough over the past two years. That’s two years of a mixture of starts and bench, mixture of league and championship.
    Jordan Flynn was only really involved this year, but had quite a decent amount of minutes without threatening the scoreboard and being limited enough in assisting for scores. He had a handpass for one score I recall he setup with some quick hands.I think he punched on another ball which was gathered for a score.
    All of Mark Moran, Colm Moran, Frank Irwin, Aidan Orme and Paul Towey as five young examples have either better movement and pace or handling and shooting then those listed above. Bryan Walsh is an example of a fringe forward only involved last year who showed a decent performance level. We didn’t get to see much of Mark Moran with injury.

  117. @JP, I get what you mean with regards fringe forwards, just it looked like James Carr and Darren Coen to a certain extent were nailed on starters in the ’19 season and to a point last year as well …. it still may not be our best line of the field, but we certainly look to have more options then we did a few years ago …. I still agree we need to be looking at the younger guys such as Moran and Towey who definitely are sharp shooters and Walsh for that matter could do with more game time …. time will tell

  118. @Quayman Darren Coen has proved to just not be quick enough for top senior county level.
    James Carr at this stage just doesn’t look to have the composure or consistency. Moments of brilliance are heavily outweighed by errors and lack of composure in my view. Ya I’m excited by some of the younger players coming through.

  119. I would have to agree with JP that Darren Coen is probably being overtaken in the pecking order by some of the newer additions to the squad. A fine player,great hands and usually pretty accurate off either foot, but if you are being expected to track your man if he decides to roam, you need to be at least able to match him for pace.
    James Carr on the other hand deserves a chance at least. I’ve said here before he needs 3/4 league games in a row to prove himself one way or the other. With all due respect if you are not coming up against county standard defenders week in week out it is hard to know what standard you are at. Not many can make the step up from junior club to senior intercounty…unless you are from kerry of course. If the league goes ahead I would love to see him start the first 3,give Cilllian,Kevin & Diarmuid a break.

  120. @Catcol, One thought is how much improving do footballers do after 23? I think you’re pretty much the player you’re going to be by 23. Some very rare exceptions like Andy Moran.

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