Lee announces his retirement

We’ve all been dreading this day but it’s finally arrived.

Earlier this morning, Lee Keegan announced his retirement from inter-county football. The official announcement from Mayo GAA is here.

In it, Lee himself makes clear the rationale for his decision. He’s got family commitments, with two small children, and so he feels unable to give the required time to inter-county football for another year. Anyone who has kids will immediately accept the validity of this position.

As many have said already, Lee owes us absolutely nothing, not least because, when we were lucky enough to have him in our playing ranks, he gave absolutely everything. I’m not alone today in expressing the opinion that Lee Keegan is the best Mayo player I’ve been privileged to see playing.

Lee’s colossal contribution to the cause is reflected in the honours he hoovered up since he made his debut for the county in early 2011. Footballer of the Year in 2016, an award he was also nominated for in 2013 and again in 2021, five All-Stars (a record for a player from Connacht) and nine All-Star nominations, a provincial record he shares with Padraic Joyce, as well as seven Connacht SFC medals, one Connacht U21 medal and a National League medal.

He played a total of 140 times for the county, making him the fifth longest-serving Mayo player of all time. He made 67 Championship appearances and his totemic contribution in the white-heat of battle is evidenced by the fact that, out of his scoring total of 8-71, an incredible 7-48 of that was bagged in the Championship.

The bigger the battle, the better Lee was.

It didn’t come much bigger than this:

Or this:

It wasn’t, of course, just in the scoring stakes that Lee’s contribution proved so noteworthy, though remarkable it surely was, in light of the jersey numbers he wore most. As a defender, he was simply peerless, as he consigned big name after big name to seventy minutes spent in that strange netherworld Mayo fans called Keegan Island.

His man-to-man tussles with Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly are surely the ones that will be recalled in the decades to come. Two elite performers at the top of their game, going at each other hammer and tongs. How lucky all of us were – Mayo supporters, Dublin supporters, everyone who follows our games – who got to witness those gladiatorial jousts.

There was widespread hope in recent weeks that Lee would be able to commit for another year in the Green and Red, hopes that were buoyed when Christmas came and went without any retirement announcement. It wasn’t to be, however, and instead Lee departs the stage, leaving us with so many unforgettable memories from days we will always cherish.

Thanks for everything, Lee, and enjoy the retirement. We truly will never see your like again.

We’re recording a special bonus Mayo Football podcast episode for Patreon club members tonight, in which Colm Boyle, Billy Joe Padden and Edwin McGreal will be chatting with Rob about Lee’s Mayo career. Watch out for that later.

125 thoughts on “Lee announces his retirement

  1. As a Galway man there a very few Mayo players I have to admit I genuinely loved watching. Liam McHale, James Nallen, Keith Higgins, David Clarke and Lee Keegan. They all have a lot in common, totally committed, trailblazers in their era and delivered on the big day.
    I would put Lee Keegan out in front, he was to me almost flawless, he had everything, pace, power, fitness, skill and most importantly, a truly brilliant player. Well done Lee on a fine career

  2. The All Ireland final goals (’16 and ’17) were the standouts for me, doing what no other Mayo player had done, namely, putting Mayo in real a position to win Sam. A half-back, running from deep, showing the skill and mindset a Mayo forward could only dream of.

    Thanks Lee, best of luck in your retirement.

  3. Words won’t really do justice to the entertainment, heart and commitment he gave the to Mayo jersey and people.
    He did his county proud on and off the pitch .
    Thank you Mr Keegan . Enjoy your time with your club and family and friends.

  4. Gave Mayo everything, owes us nothing.

    The measure of the esteem in which he was held can be gauged by the coordinated press campaign against him before the 2016 AIF replay. Every day between the drawn game and replay, a different Dublin-based publication ran a story or an opinion column attempting to blacken his name.

    They wouldn’t have done that if they weren’t terrified.

    Unfortunately, thanks to a weak referee, their strategy worked. But in typical Keegan fashion, he stuck it to them the following year with that goal in the final. Even in the 2019 wash-out, he popped up with a goal against the Dubs.

    Right up to the end, he gave all he had. He was the only player to emerge from the 2021 AIF disaster with any credit. And even last year, in a championship where Mayo were absolutely nowhere, he gets nominated for an All-Star.

    A top man, who has the respect of every football county.

    Enjoy your retirement Lee, and thank you for everything.

  5. It’s a real shame his teammates couldn’t draw on the inspiration he gave in those pivotal moments. Lee could truly do no more.

  6. Echo everyone else’s feelings on this , lee keegan has been everything a supporter ever wanted and most of all was his give it everything attitude and boy could he deliver on that .

    It’s, I suppose nearly the end of the team that came so close . Some jerseys to fill now . But as jock stein said about Celtic , “Celtic jerseys are not for second best, they don’t shrink to fit inferior players.” neither are Mayo jerseys .

  7. Well done Lee Keegan on a great career. Definitely Mayo’s greatest in my time and many older/wiser say he was up there with the great winners of the 50’s. As others mentioned; it’s a shame one or 2 other star players couldn’t match his big match temperament when you just knew he was going to perform in finals where the cup was on offer. Thanks Lee for all the memories and I’ve no doubt you have inspired future stars to don the famous green and red jersey in the years ahead.

  8. Sad day…I thought he was staying on. Big job now for McStay with Keegan and Mullin gone and Galway getting back some players of their own.

  9. Huge, huge loss for us. The more you see these clips circulating, and they are only clips, the more you appreciate what he has given and what he could give; what’s another year. Not to be.

    Irreplaceable really.

  10. Best of luck Lee Keegan, he was the greatest player I’ve seen in a Mayo jersey since I started supporting Mayo about 56 years ago. He has great skill, power & strength, plus a very good personality, all the best in the future.

  11. Gutted to hear this, thought he might have thrown his lot in for 6 more months but not to be. Amazing player, the biggest of big game players.
    Going into every all Ireland over the last decade or so, you didn’t know much about how it would unfold. Many players didn’t play their best football or were sporadic and inconsistent, affected by the moment. You couldn’t rely on them too much.
    The only thing though, that you could put your mortgage on, was the Lee Keegan would deliver an 8/10 performance in the final at an absolute minimum, and indeed often 9 or 10/10, in EVERY SINGLE final he played in from start to finish of his career.
    No other player in Mayo could you say that about. Not a single one.
    If we could have got 10 or 12 players in any of those finals to play at 8/10 of their maximum potential, we’d have about 4 all Irelands by now.
    That was the difference between Lee and the rest.
    Thanks for all the memories Lee.

  12. It is a sad day for Mayo football. The end of an era. Another brilliant Mayo footballer leaves the stage without the ultimate prize. Football can be a cruel game. Lee was the ultimate competitor who gave his all everytime he pulled on the Mayo jersey. His last couple of years saw him positioned in the fullback line most of the time and this was not the best use of his talents but needs must. Is there anyone to fill his boots in the current squad? No. There probably isn’t a player anywhere that comes close now that Oisin has headed down under.

    We will miss you Lee but you have left us with wonderful memories and tremendous pride that we were fortunate to have you wear the Green and Red with such distinction for so many years. Wishing you all the best in your retirement.

  13. So many memories. For me the goal against Roscommon in Croker when they had us on the rack. Leeroy stood up when we were falling apart and we scrapped a draw. Not sure was it 16 or 17.It was soon forgotten as we destroyed them in the replay.

    Has to be the best player ever to wear the Mayo Jersey! Thank you Leeroy for all the wonderful memories.

  14. Hard to blame him. Heard Colm Keyes say this morning that the number of championship games this year is 99, gone up from 60 last year. Do the Gaa have any respect for these amateur players ?

  15. Good luck Lee and enjoy your retirement. As others have said the best mayo player I have ever seen play and finished as the top scoring defender of all time. The only consolation I find is that we had him in his prime years so maybe his loss won’t be felt as much as if he was younger. The way i look at it is if the defenders in the panel now who are in or nearing their prime are not as good as lee in his 30s then we’re going nowhere. Thanks again lee and good luck

  16. Sad to see such a brilliant footballer retire esp one that has given so much never a better footballer had we or are likely to have , but a Clydesdale always knows when he has enough ploughed no looking at the clock , I sincerely wish lee and his family all the best in retirement and thank
    You lee for such great moments over the last Dozen years . A man’s man if ever

  17. Best wishes to the man on his retirement. What a player.
    I’m a staunch Galway football man but have to admit that Keegan was my favourite footballer.
    An absolutely brilliant baller. He was able to dabble in the dark arts when needed but also absolutely brilliant in an attacking sense too. Incredible athleticism.

  18. Lee Keegan was simply the greatest player I’ve ever seen playing for Mayo. Truly an end of an era.

  19. On a related note, any chance someone could contact Elon Musk and ask him to delete Paraic Farrelly 1 Twitter account?
    You’d think he would give it a rest for one day at least.

  20. Its been some time since visting here but just dropped by to recognise Lee Keegan’s announcement.

    As a Dub supporter, I was priviliged to attend all of the Championship battles between Dublin and Mayo during the period book-ended by Mayo wins 2012 and again in 2021.
    It will never be possible to give a true account of the Dublin six-in-a-row story without reference to the Mayo team that shadowed the Dubs all the way to the pinnacle and whose own story is almost as compelling.

    My personal opinion (and its only that), is that Lee Keegan embodied much of the pure essence of the Mayo teams over those years in a number of ways – the endeavour, the courage, the physical and technical excellence and the charismatic personality. And the associated tragedy of never achieving that ultimate goal.

    But that said, I think Lee Keegan’s contribution to the game goes beyond measurement in All Ireland medals, silverware etc. His example of dedication, of determination and of skills execution should remain an inspiration to future generations – I know I’ll be pointing the next generation back to look at Lee Keegan’s highlight reels long after the names of many medal winners are forgotten.

    So with respect and appreciation, I wish him all the best.

  21. Best of luck and good health to Lee and his family. The very best to have put on the Mayo colours,has every skill and talent a footballer needs. The best i have had the pleasure of seeing and meeting, a real gentleman. Simply the best.

  22. Jees I was sure he’d stay for another season. It’s tough to take because he’s still our best defender. Surely the people of Westport could have arranged a childcare service in his honor for another 7 months!! 🙂

    Nice for him to go out on the top of his game though. Definitely the best to ever play for Mayo. His level of consistency in his 30s has been remarkable. Con cleaned him in 2019 and he came back from that even better. Marked him again in 2021 and kept him quiet. What a payer!

    McStay is in trouble now. Mayo with Keegan and Mullin, two absolute guaranteed starters in defense and with everyone fit could legitimately be considered challengers for the title. Now though, they are a team in transition and I don’t think that’s even debatable.

  23. What news to start the week. As many have said, one of, if not THE best to wear the green and red. An absolute warrior on the field, and a gent off of it. The considerable commitment he has given to playing county football has obviously come at a cost to his personal and family life, and the comments that he made just shows the quality of the man he is in addition to a footballer. Keeping his priorities right, and focusing on his young family. Who could argue against that? Thank you Lee, for the wonderful days out, numerous highlight reels, long summers and always that hope that even if we were a few points down, you’d pull a rabbit out of the hat with a goal out of nothing.

  24. A big thanks to Lee for all that he did, I would echo all the views shared of his greatness as a player. He also brought a massive sense of belief to all of us followers on any given day before the ball was ever thrown in.
    The day was surely going to come thought and in fairness we have a bit of time now to select what will be the best 10 defenders to fill the roles and mould them into an effective unit. I often stray back into the what if scenarios, one such being what it Andy had stayed on for that 2021 final and would his cuteness and smarts have taken us over the line. I think for Lee’s departure we will miss his heroic presence more so than lament games like the 2021 final and the what if he had not retired.
    Yesterday’s club semi still shows us that the craftier and better moving forward units win the tight matches. The game we played last year in Croker against Dublin in the league with more than a few novice defenders, all be it against a Dublin team struggling for form, showed that once we get far greater focus on how we shift the ball to our forwards and how we then deliver on the score board, the less preoccupied we will become on needing to have 4 or 5 of the best defenders in the country on our team at the one time.
    If we do manage to slay the dragon this year or in the next few, then for certain sure it will be in all our eyes the player Lee hoisting it aloft along with Keith, Andy and others.

  25. Mayos greatest of all time. You could wax lyrical about him all day.

    So many moments and performances on his highlights reel you could forget about them. The bigger the game the better he was. You won’t see Keegan filling his boots against Leitrim, Sligo etc. He had bigger fish to fry.

    So many of the great moments in the last 10 years invariably had his fingerprints.
    Genuinely thought he looked shot in 2019 when con gave him a roasting then he responds with 3 all-star standard years in a row. Indefatigable.

    Kildare would have dumped us out last year only for him. He always stood tall.

    His performances against dublin at the peak of their powers was of course the stuff of legend but a personal favourite of mine was his powerhouse display against a fancied tyrone in 2014, he finished a red hot Sean cavanagh that day and grabbed game by the scruff of the neck swinging over screamers left and right.

    I know Mayo have lost quite a few legends in last 3 years but this one stings more as he is still at the top of his game while the others were undoubtedly past their best.

    The greatest.

    It’s a sad indictment of the modern game that the commitment is so all consuming that guys like Keegan, Michael Murphy etc cannot commit despite still being their teams best players. Something wrong with that picture

  26. Words are not enough here… but Thanks Lee and enjoy your retirement! U are our GOAT.
    The best compliment IMO, is that even dyed in the wool dubs respected u and that says it all.

  27. GOAT from my perspective too. Can’t blame him because his young kids have to be priority. Gutted though.

  28. I read a stat earlier that in the 5 games that Lee and Diarmuid Connolly faced each other between 2013 and 2016 the final tally was 1-4 each. Connolly must have hated the site of him.

    A true warrior. A remarkable player that we have been privileged to witness.

  29. We may not have seen Sam, but thank God we saw Lee Keegan. What a man.
    Good luck to you and yours, Always. We will never forget.
    Up Mayo

  30. Thank you for everything and best wishes for the future you gave it your all in fairness. I think we can forget about winning Sam for the next 5 and let McStay and Rochford rebuild even though they will say its not a rebuilding job. We wont see the likes of Keegan again

  31. Seen some greats in the Mayo Jersey and Lee and simply the best and true leader and warrior gone.

    Mayo first choice defence for the year ahead?

    2. B Harrison 4. P O’Hora 4. E Hession

    5. Paddy Durcan 6. Stephen Coen 7. Eoghan McLaughlin

    Plunkett when fit should fit into the team also but as as half forward dropping back. Loftus unlikely to carry on at 6 then again McStay like to play forwards in defence.

  32. That back 6 are Tailteann Cup Material

    2. B Harrison 4. P O’Hora 4. E Hession

    5. Paddy Durcan 6. Stephen Coen 7. Eoghan McLaughlin

  33. @Mayomagic
    We will need a few bolters this year in defence. I suspect and hope McBrien and Callinan will get up the required level quickly. Jack Coyne a potential bolter too.

    Big fan of Harrison but would be very surprised f he was in the mix as a starter after going on 3 years of injuries.

    I reckon it will be something like…

    O’Hora McBrien Callinan
    Durcan Coen E. McLaughlin

  34. Not many left now of a great team only Aiden, Jason, Kevin and Cillian , new strart with new manager the future looks ok .

  35. Im glad for Lee that he made the tough decision to call it a day. He is getting out at a great time and has enjoyed an injury free final season. That he is announcing it now and not a little sooner is an indicator of how difficult a decision it was for him and how he had to throw it around so many times in his head before calling time.
    I think Lee recognised that it was not a commitment for one year but at least three before Mayo will reach the high competitive standards he was part of for so long.
    In many ways his retirement facilitates the rebuilding process.
    Finding players offering leadership and inspiration is our biggest challenge. It will not happen overnight, we have to be patient.
    Like Davy Russell he is getting out at a time when he was as good as ever and coincidentally for much the same reason, to spend more time with his kids. Some players reach Immortal status, Lee is a member of that club!

  36. A lot of comments elsewhere that Lee never won an all Ireland because our forwards let us down.
    BULLSHIT conceding soft goals cost us most all Irelands we lost.

  37. Jr that’s true a bad habit of conceding goals in All-Ireland finals was Mayos downfall.

    Going back to a first choice back 6. Remains to be seen can McBrien a good club player can cut it at county level especially in a key position. and Callinan i would expect to play in advanced role. Probably too soon to expect too much from Jack Coyne yet.

  38. Congratulations on a fantastic Mayo career to the “greatest of all time” to play for Mayo..Lee Keegan.. A huge thank you to Lee and his family for all they have given Mayo, and best wishes for the future. The greatest intercounty No 5 in the history of the game…His greatest few minutes in a Mayo jersey..Mayo are 2-02 to no score down in the early stages against a rampant Roscommon in Croke Park,…Lee marking Roscommon best player Enda Smith at midfield, goes on the rampage, and scores the next 1-03 himself,.. Single handedly almost, Lee brings Mayo back into the game…140 appearance’s for Mayo and 8-71 scored, the highest scoring defender in the history of the game. I have no doubt that if Lee want’s it he can have a career as one of the best informed GAA pundits on TV… Thanks for the memories Lee..If Lee was our greatest of all time, I think Oisin Mullen had all the attributes to become our next Goat but Oisin has chosen a life down under and best wishes to him on that… Keith Higgins and John Maughan were on RTE radio one on Saturday evening last, both mentioned that Mayo were in transition… with the departure of Lee we Mayo supporters have to accept that’s most definitely where we are now.

  39. That back 6 mentioned above – which is the back 6 that started against Kerry in June minus Keegan and Mullin but with O’Hora and Harrison in their places, is so weak. Harrison is has barely played in 3 years and will surely have lost pace. Got destroyed by Paul Mannion in last Croke Park outing in 2019. O’Hora is not a corner back (and to be honest I think he is too slow at the top level), and neither is Hession.

    I agree with the Supermac that we badly need some bolters in defense. My thoughts are, Donnacha McHugh from Castlebar could be a strong corner back option. He is athletic, strong, good ball-player and has had a couple of years around the panel. He might be too young but Joe Touhy, also from Castlebar, is a good full-back. McBrien an option there too. Jack Coyne will definitely get starts at corner-back. Sam Callinan more a wing-back I feel.

    Whatever way you spin it, we are weak at the back.

  40. Best of luck in retirement Lee. I thought the longer he delayed the decision, the greater chance he might stay on for another year, but it wasn’t to be. He was certainly the best Mayo footballer I ever saw playing and I think it could be argued that for a few years in the last decade, he was the best footballer in the country. His scoring stats as a back were phenomenal and he was more often than not, marking the opposition’s most dangerous forward. But, maybe the most impressive ability of all, was how, when something needed to happen for the team, it was invariably Lee that made it happen. And this was usually in the big games against the toughest opposition. Time after time, Lee would score the goal or the point or make the lung bursting run up the field to set up a colleague for a score. It may not have always got us over the line, but it certainly wouldn’t be Lee’s fault. Enjoy your retirement Lee. Its well deserved.

  41. Ah Willie Joe, those two clips you have from Lee Keegan with those two goals have just to our misery.
    I don’t think he can be ever truly replaced.

  42. I nearly forget, Lee almost single handily reeled in the Rossies in that quarter final drawn match of 2017, did he get most of Mayo scores that day ?

  43. Keegan did all he could for Mayo scoring goals and points from a defensive position. He owes Mayo nothing just needed a few lads up front kicking like him and Mayo would have 2 All Irelands at least. Galway will be happy he has stepped away as it weakens the Mayo team.

  44. I can’t really add much else to what has all ready being said above . For me he was the greatest I have ever seen play for Mayo . A true legend . I don’t ever recall him not showing up in a big game . Not only did he show up in the big games but he took the game to the opposition as the two video clips above highlight .

    I totally respect his decision. Thank you for the memories Lee . Best of luck !

  45. Shocked and deflated by the news . I honestly thought he was gonna come back for tail end of league and then give it one more good go for an AI. He prob weighed it all up with Oisin gone as well and decided it wasn’t gonna happen.
    A true legend of the game .
    Best of luck Leeroy

  46. What is there to say that hasn’t been said? In my opinion the best I have seen play for Mayo. Those AI final goals will live with me forever. I have such great memories of that Mayo team and Lee was the beating heart of it. We may not have reached the holy grail but they really were the best of times. So saddened to see him go.

    Thank you Lee and enjoy that extra time it is most certainly deserved.

  47. Hi all, I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish ye a safe, healthy and happy 2023.
    Couldn’t believe the news that Lee has decided to retire from inter county football, he will be a massive loss to Mayo going forward as he was the beating heart of that team for the last decade. He had menace, edge, guts and a blinding level of football skills that he married perfectly with the dark arts that every top player has and particularly in defence. It was a joy and a privilege to see him play even though my heart quickened on too many occasions when he led an attack from deep, such was his ability to lead and in so doing he would draw a line in sand and inspire a comeback.
    I wish him nothing but health, joy and contentment with his young family going forward. The retirement of the real gladiators of our game brings a sense of loss to us all but in particular his own tribe.

  48. If you try and remember his best moment for Mayo three or four others jump up at the same time. An absolute colossus and definitely a massive blow to the squad and its development, but he owes Mayo absolutely nothing. A privilege to watch and I wish him the very best for the future.

  49. I’m disappointed to hear about Lee’s retirement, there was certainly another season or two left in the locker and not as an impact sub. The ultimate big-game player for Mayo who has never let us down. Great memories and two massive holes to fill in the backs, who will step up?

  50. Thanks a million Lee. So many great, up off your seat, memories. Even in recent years, his ability to burst forward for a huge score (Tyrone in ‘21, Galway and Kildare last year, even the goal against Dublin in ‘17 was just after the sendings off) would have been priceless in itself. And this on top of being one of the best man-markers in the game. Most all-stars ever from Connacht says it all. Enjoy the retirement; surely a bright future beckons as an analyst if desired.

    Feels like expectations for this year are falling rapidly, and rightly so. Being competitive and developing some of the talent around the panel would be a decent result for the next couple of years, in my view.

  51. Mile buiochas Lee for all the memories. What a legend simply the best!
    Go neiri leath i gconai Lee agus do clann.
    Ni bheidh a leichead aris ann!
    Mhuigeo Abu!

  52. – Leeroy the legend, has to be the best Mayo player in the last 50 years.
    -He delivered when most needed and led us more than once out of trouble
    – No greater sight than seeing him bomb forward heading STRAIGHT for goal….
    – Thank you Lee and best wishes to you and your Family.

  53. Thank you Lee Keegan. Big player for the big occasion.
    It’s a new generation team now aged Ryan O’Donoghue to Diarmuid O’Connor as the core.

  54. Some player.

    Aside from his obvious strengths (man marking, running off the shoulder, scoring ability), an underrated skill was his kick passing. Very few better players around at the long drilled foot pass into the full forward line. We probably didn’t get to fully see that aspect of his game with the way Mayo played.

  55. Immense.
    Immense pride
    Immense footballer.
    Immense talent.
    Immense person.
    Immense sadness… but also
    Immense gratitude.
    Thank you Lee.
    You make me an immensely proud Mayo man.
    Maigheo go deo.

  56. A very bad Monday became much worse when that need came through,all the best for the future for him and his family,it is of course very difficult when he has a young family,nothing but great pride watching him play,and to know that he was playing for Mayo,but we must recognise that other supporters have paid great tributes to him as well ,amongst them Gamechanger who always very fair in his comments,but the Dublin fans site has also praised him,and Galway fan s have paid fulsome praise to him,we need to remember that when we engage in battle again,it is always great to have banter but we need respect each other as well,I am still optimistic for the year ahead we have many good players coming through,

  57. Thank You Leeroy Keegan for the unbridled joy and excitement that you gave us over the past eleven years in the Mayo Jersey. Will never forget your heroic performances on the biggest days of all. You were electric. We were electric because of you. We will never forget you. You were simply the best we’ve ever had. Wishing you the very best for the future.

  58. A lot of top forwards from other counties will be able to answer their grandkids question…”Were you a good player Grandad”?……”I must have been because Mayo put Lee Keegan on me”.
    Thanks for the memories Lee.

  59. Such a privilege to have witnessed the career of possibly our greatest ever but definitely our most inspirational.We all knew the day was coming,it’s sad but but the man owes us nothing,a legend and a gentleman.happy retirement Lee

  60. Tough to hear but as others have said, he has his priorities right and he is getting out at the top. Can only the amount of cajoling he had to endure. Would imagine a punditry gig somewhere in the offing at some stage.

    Thanks for everything Lee. Top man.

  61. Not going to lie but was totally sick when the news came through on WhatsApp this morning. Totally devastated and disappointed as listening to Kevin McStay on podcast last week it gave me hope he was staying on for another year. After the disappointed subsided (ever so slightly)and watching numerous clips of his greatness and the endless tributes paid to him all over social media throughout the day, I felt so grateful and thankful or what he did in the Green & Red Jersey. What a player. He gave his all everytime he put on that jersey and sometimes singlehandedly got us over the line with his work ethic, skill and sheer determination to get the win. You have been a true warrior for Mayo football. Thank you Lee for everything and thank you to your wife who supported and enabled you to give 100% to the cause. Behind every great man there is a great woman. Best of luck to you and your family in your retirement.

  62. https://twitter.com/sportsdes/status/1612405295359074306?s=46&t=EmZ8SX1eS2QG0NWW671_Bg

    Says a lot about Des Cahill that he add the snide little qualifier in this “tribute” to Lee that he never won an all Ireland.

    https://twitter.com/sportsdes/status/1612405295359074306?s=46&t=EmZ8SX1eS2QG0NWW671_Bg

    Probably 1000 different players in Ireland have won all Ireland senior medals in the last 30 years.
    I’d say keegan was comfortably better than 98 or 99% of those players.

  63. Another myth that has grown some legs over the years in the great battles that keegan and Connolly had in all Ireland semi finals and finals.
    I don’t quite recall it like that. It wasn’t like these were 50:50 encounters. Connolly was pretty anonymous in most of those games. In fact, I don’t remember a single big mayo v Dublin championship game where Connolly got a hold of us and made a massive impact.
    His peak as a Dublin player was actually in a couple of big semi finals v kerry, particularly in 2013 and 2016.
    I feel that keegan completely nullified him in all the big Mayo v Dublin games from 2012-16. By 2017, he was a sub, and keegan had moved on to Ciaran Kilkenny.
    It was people like Bernard Brogan, James McCarthy, Cluxton, then Fenton and Con in more recent years that caused Mayo a lot of problems.

  64. Yes noted that too Mikey3. He could have left it out on the day. Never mind as loads mentioned today of those men who have won All Ireland’s in the past some were not half as good as our Lee. The GOAT

  65. @Mikey3
    In the 5 games between 2013 and 2016 the overall tally was Connolly 1-4 Keegan 1-4.
    The problem we had was that Lee couldn’t be in two or three places at once and the Dublin bench killed us on more than one occasion. I always thought 2016 was our chance.
    We have only scored 2 AI final goals since 2013 and Lee scored them both.

  66. @Mikey, Connolly is the most over rated player of this generation. He wasn’t even the best wing forward on his own team, that was Paul Flynn. Keegan’s work on Kilkenny was much more impressive given Kikenny’s importance to Dublin.

  67. So sorry to hear Lee has called it a day. In my over 50 years of watching Mayo, he was the greatest I ever saw in the green and red. He played with some super players during his decade with Mayo and that team gave us some brilliant memories. But of all those great players Leeroy was the greatest of them all. The bigger the game, the bigger the performance. What a legend. Enjoy your retirement Lee.

  68. Let ye not forget Lee should have been awarded a penalty in the last 5 or 10 minutes of the 2017 final where Kilkenny held his arm with both hands when Lee was bearing down on goal inside the square.

  69. Devastated that he didn’t go again. What a legend. Mayo s greatest ever. Possibly mullin going may have been the game changer. But we have to go on. Jh lost Higgins Barrett sos parson s. Still made it to the final. Best of luck leeroy. You owe mayo nothing.

  70. Our special podcast bonus episode went online for club members last night (after my bedtime!) – it’s hosted by Rob and features Colm Boyle, Billy Joe Padden and Ed McGreal as they discuss Lee’s stellar inter-county career.

  71. Its all been said… for such a top player (and I’d certainly have him in any teams of the century and all that) there was absolutely no airs and graces about him, and for someone who wouldn’t have been the most naturally talented growing up, he developed into an incredible footballer – two footed, great kickpasser – as well as a top defender. There’s no point going into individual highlights as there’s too many, most retirement tributes are packed with hyperbole and revionism but there’s not enough plaudits you can give him in this instance

    First noticed him actually playing Ted Webb back in the day but I think he really had people standing up and noticing in under 21 2009 when they made the semi, and in Westport’s intermediate success around the same year

    Still plenty years good football in him and looking forward to seeing him in the sky blue and navy in the years ahead.

    Definitely a big blow to McStay – I do feel sorry for him, losing his two top defenders. Lots have changed since he took on the role – before a competitive ball has even been kicked. I think a semi final would be a fantastic result for him this season, but a quarter is more realistic to be honest

  72. The very best of luck to Lee and hopefully he won’t miss the Inter County too much in 2023 when it kicks off.

    Regardless of who the opposition was or how good their best player was, we never really had to worry about that, because we had someone who was better.

    We’ve been blessed with very good footballers over the past decade or so and we’ve had a couple of greats. Lee is certainly one of the all time greats, not just within our county but across the country. I hope he continues to enjoy his football with Westport.

  73. Good point Ciaran, considering Lee was something of a late bloomer coming late to it in his teens it was incredible how quickly he got his skillset to an elite level, kicking brilliantly off both feet, his left footed effort against kildare last year a case in point,an incredible effort

  74. It’s all been said and written over the last 24 hours. Just as well, because I don’t know what to say. The heart is low.

    When Boyle called time, we still had Higgins and Keegan. When Higgins called time, we still had Keegan and Mullin. When Mullin left, we still had Keegan. Now??
    To me it feels that his departure signals the end of that truly great Mayo side of 2012 to 2020. Sure, we all know they didn’t get the ultimate job done but history will paint that Mayo team as being truly iconic, one of the true great sides in GAA history. An era defining team that shaped some of the greatest football contests in anyt era of the game. It feels like the closing of a book, a story that has ended, because Keegan has been central to so many great, historic days of following Mayo football. Days that created memories that will last lifetimes, memories that although bitter on occasion, have made us all who witnessed them so much richer for it. We had better days and greater occasions than many supporters whose team brought home Sam. 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017. The days of our lives! Keegan was central to it all.
    To see Keegan play was to see the embodiment of Mayo football and all our game represents. He demonstrated what Mayo football was all about. Fearless, attacking, honest, hard and fair. The bigger the opponent, the better he played. The greater the pressure, the higher his performance rose. There will be many words written over the next few days, YouTube reels compiled and voxpops played. But for all of us who were lucky enough to see him play, play in the greatest amphitheatre of them all, play against the greatest players of our generation and for him STILL to be the best player out there, is to have witnessed true sporting greatness.

    The last resident has now left Keegan Island and we’re all the worse for it.

  75. A great servant. I was in hogan stand in 2016 when he kicked 2 mighty scores. 1 point of his left boot was just awesome to watch. Not to mention sean kavanaghs nullification. Keegan carried mayo on manys the day. Unfortunately all careers come to an end.

  76. I still think we can give 2023 a right rattle. I’m not sure it’s going to be a vintage standard.
    Kerry 2023
    Current injuries:Goalkeeper, Gavin White, Sean OShea, Brian OBeaglaigh,Stephen O’Brien
    Current year older old: David Moran Paul Geaney, Stephen O’Brien, Paul Murphy
    Dublin 2023
    Year older old (overlooked and could be an issue)
    Mick Fitsimmons, James Mccarthy, Dean Rock,
    Retired: Jonny Cooper
    A lot of mileage on the clock for the full squad off of continual long seasons. Few other lads hitting 30 where niggling injuries become more common and pace dips slightly.
    Galway 2023
    Injuries:Kieran Molloy out with acl
    Year older old: Paul Conroy
    Absent: Liam Silke away travelling
    Molloy and if no Silke are big blows to that Galway defence. They were two of their three best defenders with Sean Kelly.
    My view is that Mayo should tog a really pacey, physical starting team as that is what the top three look vulnerable to.
    Batter them into physical submission coming down the late stretch of the game. Then have a mix of experience and pace to come in and finish the game.
    Before nuance is mentioned, I can only explain a point of view with specific points. When one explains a point of view you either have specifics or you have too high level general or a point of view that encompasses many sides? That’s not then a point of view.

  77. Rochford played Keegan a lot in the FB line in the league
    A very smart move as when he was dominating the opposition top forward he was usually moved to the FF line.
    Big difference between playing in half back line and FF line.

  78. JP, you’ve missed the part where Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey return for Dublin.
    Stefan Okunbor will have a full year back with Kerry.
    Ian Burke, Peter Cooke and Barry McHugh should be back with Galway.
    Mayo have Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue back but the likes of Cillian O’connor, Aidan O’Shea, Doherty, McLoughlin etc will be prone to the same things you highlighted about the Dubs, mileage, niggling injuries and dipping pace.

    I think its fairly open but I think the Dubs with Gilroy and a few of those players mentioned back will be very hard to stop. You’ll still have a spine of Byrne, Small, Fenton, Kilkenny and Con. Add in McCaffrey, Mannion, McCarthy, Murchan, Paddy Small, Fitzsimmons it’ll take a very good team to beat them

  79. @BigMike
    Thanks I didn’t want to widen out as to who is coming in or returning as I didn’t know enough of same for Kerry and Galway to compare.
    On the return of Paul Mannion, Jack McCaffrey and Con O’Callaghan it’s interesting to think what level they will be at.
    Paul Mannion, a long break, injuries. Risk he comes back as solid but not better than solid.
    Con O’Callaghan, has had injuries and a break, but he’s such a talent you’d figure he comes back at least a good level. Suprised if he came back at his peak level.
    Jack McCaffrey. Has had a pretty long break, injury free, a generational talent so you’d be very confident he’d be back at a good level. Will he be back at peak off a long break?
    Does the return of those three outweigh the older players aging? I would think it does, but not by a large amount if for example Fitsimmons, Rock and Mccarthy start to dip.

  80. could someone list all the backs left in the panel now ?

    Feel sorry for mcstay losing our two best defensive players in leeroy and Mullin

  81. Can’t see past dublin this year, I think they realise it will be last year for Mccarthy, Fitzsimmons and Rock and so are throwing everything at it.

    I suspect tyrone will get closest to them as they have a point to prove and are plugging in some outstanding u21s

  82. Sigerson cup 1st round back tonight and tomorrow night, hope McStay doesnt start any players on Saturday evening against Galway that are playing in it after what happened last year .
    Tommy Conroy and Mark Moran are playing for NUIG
    Eoghan McLaughlin, Frank Irwin, Jack Coyne , Jack Fallon , and Fenton Kelly playing for UL
    Cian Hanley playing for DIT
    Pearce Ruttledge playing for UCD

  83. Best wishes Lee after a stellar career in Green and Red.

    You never once let the side down.

    Sport is cruel and you don’t always get the rewards your talent deserves.

    On a separate note I backed Mayo before this announcement at 7/1 to make a league final.

    I think you’ll get a real bounce from McStay and Co particularly with Conroy and ODonoghue firing.
    Decent fixture list too.

  84. Brilliant footballer and servant of Mayo football, Lee thanks for the great memories and enjoy the next chapter of life.
    Also you have inspired a whole new generation of not alone Mayo footballers but all over Ireland who watched you play with such energy, vigour and skill and entertained us over so many great years. That’s a legacy few players can really leave but you have so well done and congrats again on your Mayo career. Now I’m sure Mayo’s loss will be Westport’s gain so we all look forward to seeing you in the Mayo club games in the coming months…..

  85. Agree Supermac, can’t see past Dublin this year. Don’t think there’s any worries with regard to Mannion fitting in given his talent levels, he’s also been heavily involved with the club (outside his injuries). There is a sense of last hurrah about it in a way for those Supermac mentioned – I’m surprised in a way Johnny Cooper walked but he was probably told he wouldn’t be a first choice. I’d say Rock could stay on a few more years though

    As far as I remember Joyce previously mentioned that he hoped Silke would be involved come the championship. In any case Ian Burke and Cooke back are huge boosts to them. Galway will definitely have a stronger panel this year, but they were helped a lot with the draw last year.

    It looks like a very convoluted championship this year to get to the inevitable Dublin, Kerry final pairing – I’m sure Tyrone will have a bit of a point to prove aswell though, and they could surprise many – they did win the under 20 last year and you’d expect they’ll find a player or two out of the two clubs involved in finals this Sunday. But yeah Dublin and Kerry are definitely the leading two, with Galway probably best of the rest contenders

  86. Tyrone really have some quality to add into their panel this year. Confident Tyrone will be better than last year.

  87. Its mad to think Kilkenny, McCaffrey, Mannion, Fenton, Small are all turning 30 this year, Scully, Costello (and other lads like Lowndes, Conor McHugh and Davy Byrne) next year. Only Con, Murchan, and Howard are what you could call top players that are still in their mid 20s

    Could they be heading for a few barren years come the latter half of this decade? You’d initially assume so, but at the same time its Dublin, and their population alone means they’ll always have a decent conveyor belt.

    By the way that 1993 (with 1994s sprinkled in) Dublin age group, must be the best underage team there has ever been – despite being ambushed in the minor final – given what happened subsequently

  88. Derry are another interesting one.. don’t forget if they had a true marquee forward last year they could have had Galway bet at half time. I’m sure the Glen’s run will galvanize them more and they have been much better at underage in recent years. If they build on last year, get promoted from division 2 and carry that momentum into championship they could be very hard bet.

    I think Armagh maximised themselves last year. The class of 91 are all a year older and they’re a bit too reliant on O’Neill for scores. Don’t think the format will suit them either, they seem to be a team who likes to build momentum in the back door. That said if they pushed up on the last Galway kick out they were in a winnable semi last year

  89. @Sam og great to hear Tommy conroy playing his first game for NUIG in sigerson I think he will hopefully be in good form !

  90. Lee Keegan, more than any other Mayo player since the 50’s, embodied what makes supporters proud to be from Mayo: skill, constant focus on improvement, no surrender attitude, 100% belief, leadership, that edge that All Ireland winners need, and many more attributes too numerous to mention.
    You could see your team win one boring All Ireland final in an otherwise barren decade or see them involved in 6 of the most exciting, dramatic finals of all time against the greatest team ever. I know which one I would choose.
    Lee, míle buíochas for taking us on a journey which provided so many memorable moments and enriched the lives of all Mayo supporters. God bless you and your family and good health and happiness to you all.

  91. I think we’ve as good a shot as anyone this year.

    Under Horan (2nd coming) we made a national final each year. I’d be optimistic that that continues.

    Last year really fleshed out our aerial ability around the middle third. I think it’s something we can exploit moving forward

  92. Been sad since yesterday over lee keagan news ha. What an amazing player he gave us everything he could and did everything he could to try and get us over the line. He never gave up . He also had such respect for other counties even whe he lost yet another final always went and said congrats on the win thats the kind of guy he is a role model.

    He owes us nothing wish him all the best!
    When his kids grow up they will realise what a star he is and be proud of their daddy!

    Someone else will step up in his shoes but they are pretty big shoes to fill!

  93. I first saw Mayo play in the 1968 Connacht Final aged 9. I can safely say in all the years since lee was the greatest player we ever produced. Thanks for everything you contributed to Mayo Lee. Every best wishes for your future happiness. Thanks again.

  94. It is a blow for the McStay project, but may take a bit of pressure off. I think this was mentioned in the recent pod.

    In many ways it marks the end of the team of the past decade. The likes of Aidan and Jason Doc are no longer guaranteed starters. Diarmuid probably still is, and Cillian, although Cillian has had a bad run of injuries and he’s a player will massive mileage in the legs. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if he spends time on the bench from now on.

    All the above will allow McStay to shape his own new team more freely I think. I think it’s time now to really move on from the past and allow the newer lads to flourish and the not-so-newer lads to lead.

    I don’t think it’s a bad reflection on McStay that Lee left, as I think his reasons are clear and understandable given all he has said via the media. It’s imperative now that the remaining Mayo team and panel really pull for McStay. He’ll bring something new and time will tell how it pans out. Mayo have failed in 7 All Ireland final appearances over the past decade under other management, so McStay deserves all the goodwill he can get and full commitment from the players.

  95. I’m with JP here. Don’t like this attitude of writing a year off already on the first week in January. That’s smacks of pre 2011 stuff to me. So far away in the distant past it’s almost irrelevant to modern day Mayo football.
    What’s James Horans biggest legacy? To make Mayo a serious football county that is consistently competitive.
    For me, that means a bad mayo team makes the last 8. An average one make the semi final and a good one makes the final or wins it.
    There is not that many good teams out there and no matter how bad we are going, we should always be ready to turn up in Croker for an all Ireland semi final against Dublin or Kerry and give them a right rattle, even at our worst. That’s the new future for Mayo.
    The old 2000s decade days of getting knocked out of the championship by Sligo and Westmeath and fermanagh and Longford and Meath and the likes are gone forever.
    As a result of Horan, we are now in the Kerry Dublin bracket in terms of consistency. In a bad year (2022), we still lose to the eventual champions.

    In terms of what we can do in 2023, I’d be hopeful of (a) a good injury run and I actually think Kerry are already playing catch up in that regard, and (b) a new manager bounce.
    Last year we had the inverse of the new manager bounce whatever you might call that.
    A fit and fully firing ROD, Cillian and Tommy C in the full forward line is comparable to the best FF lines out there in other counties.
    I can list the following players as very high level performers in terms of building an AI winning team if the new management can get them playing close to their peak:
    Hennelly
    Paddy Durcan
    Ryan O D
    Tommy C
    Cillian
    Diarmuid
    Matty Ruane

    Then there’s a second tier of very good players, some of whom are young and improving:
    Eoghan McL
    Carney
    Flynn (his improvement curve is very steep right now and he hasn’t reached the ceiling yet)
    Hession
    That’s 11 high quality players already.

    There’s probably then a batch of guys that are either declining via age or have inconsistencies in their game.
    This is where the management earns their corn. How many players can they improve and elevate from this bracket into the above 2 brackets. There’s some players that have specific weaknesses but a lot of strengths and as long as the manager puts them in the correct position surrounded by the top players, they can be used to their strengths and be very effective. Every all Ireland winning side has guys like this.
    People like coen, o’hora, Carr, plunkett and loftus fall into this category.
    The unproven guys like Callinan, Towey, Orme, Coyne, McBrien, etc – we only need one or two of them to lift to make a big impact. All of those players should be better in 2023 than they were in 2022.
    There’s a stack of younger talent then in Mayo for future seasons. Ronan Clarke was the best minor footballer in Ireland last year arguably and while still a couple of years away, it’s an important development year for a guy who for once for Mayo isnt a corner back, instead he’s a full forward and hes not the only one either. Young Morahan for castlebar who just turned 18 last year is another to keep an eye out for in 2024/25 onwards.

  96. @Mikey3 fully agree with you I think we will be in a much better place this year last year was a bad year for us as we limped out of quarter final stage even though loads of other counties would love to even get to a quarter final .

    Lee keagan was our best player for sure but we didnt just come so close in finals just because of him it was because of our older players& younger ones also

    Looking forward to having Tommy conroy Ryan o D and cillian o connor back that is one of the strongest full forward line in the country if fully fit!

    Your right gone are those days other counties thinking mayo are not a serious side . People talk about mayo because they know we hard to beat you can never write us off just havent crossed the line yet one day we will just have to keep going until we do and lee keagan I am sure would say the same thing!

  97. im feeling down since i heard LEE was retireing from inter county football . i echo all the comments on here so theres not much more i can add. thanks LEE for the for all the great memories , they will stay with me as long as i live.

  98. @Neophyte aww I think the whole of mayo share your feelings . Head up as Lee keagan would say to us !!

  99. I wish people would stop referring to Lee as “the best player to never win an All Ireland” I don’t know about anyone else but I find this incredibly insulting. Lee is Mayo’s best ever footballer, the best half back to ever play the game and one of the GAAs all time great players, medals don’t come into the equation.

  100. @Mayomad I don’t think anyone is questioning that? People are saying that he deserved a celtic cross thats it

  101. @mayomad no doubting all you say about Lee is true and he thoroughly deserved to win an All Ireland medal but the reality is its all about winning Sam and winning medals. Lesser players have won all Ireland medals and no one can ever take them away from them. Im glad Lee won an all Ireland medal with his club

  102. @Glorydays exactly at least he went out with that and I hope he gets another medal or two from westport he deserves it

  103. Best of Luck to Lee. Legend is a term often used but rarely merited.
    This little montage brought a smile and tear to my eye…
    Not sure if the link works here but what a true Maigheo Legend, proud to say I witnessed some of these moments first hand.
    Search Youtube :Lee Keegan (Mayo) – Best Moments • Goals & Points
    https://youtu.be/v-X05Aa5Qm8

  104. Just read Game Changer ,Cora Stauntons book and even if that is her biased version of how Mayo ladies football was and is run, if the mens football is run in a similar way and there are similar reports of interference down through the years, we will never win an All Ireland. Hope McStay runs it his way .

  105. One of the best. Sad to see him go deserves an all ireland more than anyone. Inspired so many!

    Best of luck Lee

  106. The star that shone the brightest! Our greatest ever player. A man who made you proud to stand tall and puff out your chest because with him we had a chance, we always had a chance. A sad day for Mayo football and I fear the death knell for this generation. Irreplaceable

  107. Thank you, phenomenal Lee Keegan.

    It was too hard to comment until now. The words felt sucked out of me. It was also hard to describe the man because he made his performances look so easy.

    You have educated us. And you have elevated us (with the rest of that team). Thank you.

  108. Time to dust ourselves down, stand up and move on. Chance now for others to pick up the mantle and become heroes. As a county we will all miss seeing Lee in the Green and Red but we have battles to fight and feeling sorry for ourselves is negative and wrong. None of us know what chemistry might be revealed within McStay’s panel. If we have to do things differently then so be it. Could be the dawn of another exciting era, starting with the league (FBD is only shadow boxing) and if we are in a better place fitness wise and a couple of wins to boost confidence then who knows. I for one can’t wait!

  109. @Faith51 we have plenty of other good players to. We didnt just come so clpse over the years because of Lee and he would say the same thing to he was the best player we ever had and I am still sad over it like we all our but give mcstay and the new players coming back a chance weve Tommy conroy back ryan O D and I thought conor mcstay is a promising new forward.

    I agree with @Joe.G.?? Your totally right as lee would say chin up better days to come and I will be cheering all the way with you from the sidelines plenty to still be positive about!!

  110. You could always trust Lee to perform when the pressure was greatest – now that’s what makes a truly great player in any sport.
    He will always occupy a special place in the hearts of Mayo supporters.

  111. I am So sorry to see Lee leave the camp.
    I wonder will they be more on the way out.
    Leroy is without doubt one of the greatest ever
    To wear the Mayo jersey.
    Thank you Lee for All the great moments you
    Have given us Mayo Supporters.

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