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Interview with Derek Keane

29 January 2015

“Our season, one week.”  Mr Derek Keane with Bill Belichick-esque visionary aplomb sets up where we are this week ahead of a massive league encounter against Barnhall on Friday night. Derek as the long time best weapon in the Skerries rugby arsenal and joker of the pack calls it as it is.

Excited by the prospect of a huge game at home to Barnhall on Friday night?
Can’t wait, bring it on! It is the biggest game for the club this season. Fourth in the table versus third. Our season revolves around the outcome of this week. We always get a huge turnout of support on Friday Night Lights league games but I can assure you the players look forward to these games every bit as much as our loyal fan base does. Frankly, there isn’t another AIL side in Ireland that gets a bigger gate than we do and that’s a massive boost for the players as well as being an intimidating prospect for our opponents.

How good is it to be back in the dressing room, Derek?
It is the best feeling. Unbelievable! I didn’t think I was going to play rugby again after 2010. Suspect fellow players didn’t think I’d get here after pre and early season setbacks. What can I say? I’m a freak of modern sporting science to be out here competing and scoring more tries this season than Kevin McGrath, the self professed ‘Try Scoring King of Holmpatrick’.

What has changed most about the set-up?
The drinking culture that goes with the modern Skerries dressing room is too much for me. (Says Derek Keane, king of the early night’s pre and post games).

On Coach Keane and his operation
Chris Keane’s role is crucial. He’s brought so much of the professional mentality and attitude to the dressing room from his Leinster days that it couldn’t but rub off on the players.

The biggest compliment I can pay is that so much of what we execute is called by him. Ok, Conal Keane has his moments where he rules the world and the devil/head coach can take the hindmost, but it is Chris’s strategy game on game that we effectively look to execute.

With the professional set-up comes Chris’s collegiate style. He’s the head coach who makes the big decisions but he’s listening to his coaches, players and backroom set-up. More broadly our wider coaching set-up helps. With Patsy Beggs, Scrumpy and Des O’Connor there is a level of expectation to deliver week on week. I’ve never played in such a successful Skerries dressing room, where the standards are so high each week. It’s a really nice feeling.

It is also testament to John Murphy’s regime that Chris learnt his trade there were many of the building blocks for Skerries’ upward trajectory were slotted in. You can see throughout the club how the well planned out system John and Chris put in place has built a winning culture and one with high expectations and standards of excellence.

All that serious stuff said, to keep Chris Keane’s fit firmly on the ground I’d also like to add he’s the ugliest coach I’ve ever played for!

Who is the best player (s) you’ve ever played with?
The best two players I’ve played with in my career at Skerries are Tony Giles and Marc Hewitt. Although I’d played with Marc’s older brother (David) growing up I would say Marc is the undisputed Hewie! Mr Consistent and Mr Top Class.

Favourite character in the dressing room?
One of the best things about being back in the dressing room is being round David Quirke. He is the best fun and capable of the most mercurial moments on the field. I fondly remember him taking some constructive chat from a senior coach and responding – “Thanks. I’ll take that onboard”. In fact, the next time Quirkie is dropped can we please ensure he comes back into the dressing room for that silly little ditty he’s got us celebrating victories to – ‘Hooked on a Feeling’.

And finally Derek what was your favourite game?
Our fourth league game this 2014/5 season away to Naas. It was my first game in over four years and in my opinion the most complete performance from a Skerries side that I’ve ever been involved with. To score over forty points on the road, keep them scoreless and personally to score a try and come through the game unscathed, boy, it was like something out of a dream.

Isn’t he a little lamb? Butter won’t melt in his mouth. Thanks Derek for the superb insights and the memories. Go well on Friday night and don’t forget to get your legendary handoff out at least nine times during the game.