Huge honour for Dolphin veteran Keeshan

Huge honour for Dolphin veteran Keeshan
Dolphin's Barry Keeshan kicks a conversion. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

HE has been as prolific with his boot as Ronan O’Gara, plays in the same position and has out-lasted the former Munster and Ireland number 10.

Barry Keeshan has been a pivot in the All Ireland league since 2002 and will be back in pre-season training next month for Dolphin as he looks to complete his 16th season in the AIL.

Keeshan was this week honoured by Cork’s Lord Mayor Des Cahill for his contribution to amateur rugby in Cork with UCC and Dolphin and was both surprised and thrilled to be honoured by Cork’s first citizen.

“I was a bit taken aback to be honest with you when the Lord Mayor rang. Obviously, I was chuffed to get the call and it is a huge honour. I am looking forward to going to the City Hall, I’ve never been in there so it will be a first for me.” 

Lord Mayor, Cllr Des Cahill with Barry Keeshan and the Dolphin representatives.
Lord Mayor, Cllr Des Cahill with Barry Keeshan and the Dolphin representatives.

And the former PBC player has no sign of letting up yet. He is hoping that Dolphin can bring in a young out-half this season.

“We’re realistic enough to know that if we get somebody in from school we’ll probably only have them for two or three seasons and help them get to the next level. 

"That’s the way it goes. We will be getting somebody in from school so hopefully it will be mentoring as well as coaching. 

"We had Cillian Monahan in there last year but he has got a job in Dublin so I will be training in pre-season and playing again next season.

“I’ll be coaching the backs and Rowey (Chris Rowe) will be there again this year. 

"The day it stops being enjoyable is the day I’ll stop playing,” says Keeshan.

There have been times where playing club rugby has not been a joy and the Dolphin out-half had one such incident in the season just finished. 

The games against Belfast Harlequins in October 2015 and March 2016 were low points and high points in Keeshan’s club career.

“They took a cheap shot at me last season when I got a dig into the back of my ribs and it punctured a lung. 

"That was awful not being able to breathe properly. 

"It was the first time in my career that anybody took a cheap shot like that. 

"That happened in October and it took me a while to recover.” 

Barry Keeshan, Dolphin RFC, (centre) at a reception at City Hall with his parents Denis and Margaret and his brothers John (left) and Donagh. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Barry Keeshan, Dolphin RFC, (centre) at a reception at City Hall with his parents Denis and Margaret and his brothers John (left) and Donagh. Picture: Denis Minihane.

As the season moved on and Dolphin’s season took a turn for the worst, but there was a chance to get his own back on the Ulster side.

“There was an upside to it though and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get pleasure out it when I scored late in the game in Musgrave Park in the following March.” 

That was the exception though rather than the rule and there have been far more high points in his career than low.

“There have been a lot of high points. 

"I remember George Finn (a flanker) and James Coughlan (a number eight) played on the wing and in the centre the day we gained promotion to division one that was certainly something we never saw before and something we never saw again. 

"I think Chucken (Coughlan) moved back into number eight, there probably wasn’t enough action for him in the centre,” he says laughing.

Keeshan has witnessed some huge changes in the club game since making his debut for the college and while he reckons that standards took a dip for a couple of seasons, those standards are back up now. 

That change was due to the change in profile from late 20s to early 20s over the space of two or three seasons.

“There has been a huge change in the level of physicality in the game and a good few seasons ago the standard dropped off a bit because there was such an age drop in teams but standards are definitely coming back up in the last two or three seasons.” 

Keeshan can count his international caps among his treasures as well having represented Ireland as part of the Ireland international clubs side.

“I loved my time with the Ireland International club team. 

"It is a great honour to be capped at any level and it was great craic as well as being a step up in standard. 

"We only got to train for a couple of weekends before the game and Scotland were using it to feed their Academies but they were one-off games and we were able to socialise afterwards and enjoy it.” 

Dolphin's Barry Keeshan kicking a drop-goal. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Dolphin's Barry Keeshan kicking a drop-goal. Picture: Denis Minihane.

While he never played in the senior professional ranks he has played with plenty of players who have and was in the same age group sides as Tommy Bowe and Tomas O’Leary in the early parts of their careers.

“It was a bit surreal watching the USA v Ireland game at the weekend. 

"You had the two Scannells (Rory and Niall) playing for Ireland and John Quill and Paddy Ryan for the US. 

"I’ve played with all of them at Dolphin and hopefully helped them.

“I love keeping an eye on players that I’ve played with like Tommy Bowe or Tomas O’Leary and then Rory and Niall. 

"Rory was playing with us just two seasons ago. 

"I’ve loved my time in the AIL but as I said I am chuffed to be honoured by the Lord Mayor.”

Barry Keeshan with his girlfriend Kate Motherway.Picture: Denis Minihane.
Barry Keeshan with his girlfriend Kate Motherway.Picture: Denis Minihane.

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