I’m a bit late, I know, to the party on the Lee Keegan story that’s been all over the media in the last 36 hours or so. Truth be told, it’s because I’m so gobsmacked about the facts in the story that Lee felt compelled to reveal to Mike Finnerty in this week’s Mayo News and which Mike then recounted so well yesterday evening on Newstalk’s Off The Ball show.
At one level, there’s a real Mayo GAA story here. One of our most important players, one of the finest performers ever to wear the county jersey, has had to undergo keyhole surgery on both of his hips at the age of 28. The surgery will sideline him for months, which will mean he’ll miss the bulk of next year’s League campaign.
I’ve no problem with our having to battle through the 2018 spring campaign without Lee’s on-field presence. It’d be better, of course, if his absence wasn’t an enforced one but this is a player who hasn’t really had a break of any kind since the closed season after the 2015 championship campaign – going from the 2016 season straight into the International Rules, then to the All-Ireland run with Westport and back to inter-county action as soon as that was over – so he’s undoubtedly due one now.
Lee invariably plays at his peak when the stakes are highest for us. A longish break between now and next summer will, hopefully, mean that he’ll be back to full fitness by the time the serious action is starting next year. Ready, once again, to shepherd key opponents off to that mysterious place known as Keegan Island.
Lee’s surgery and its implications should have been the story about him this week. But, of course, it wasn’t. Instead it was the sad and rather scandalous rumour-mongering about him that has swirled around the county over the past few weeks.
Spreading baseless rumours about individuals didn’t start with the advent of social media. In the age we now live in, however, they’re easier to start and to spread than ever before and, once they take off, they’re impossible to rein in. They’re like a virus. They go viral.
The world is, of course, full of false stories and it’s harder than ever to separate truth from downright lies. But everyone has a choice here, which is deciding whether or not they want to be part of the fake news problem or part of the solution.
In this regard, those who helped this baseless rumour about Lee gain traction need to have a good, hard look at themselves. There was a whiff of the rumour here on the site too but, thankfully, people have the sense to know that that kind of crap won’t be tolerated in these parts.
Hopefully by Lee going public with details of the distress this false rumour has caused to those close to him it will give everyone pause to think about the consequences of helping to spread stories of this kind. If so, he’ll have performed a valuable service, albeit in relation to an issue he should never have been made to feel obliged to go public about in the first place.
Get well soon, Lee. Here’s to more great things from you on the field of play in 2018.