Cork goalscoring hero Mark Keane ruled out of Aussie Rules action; Bríd Stack to wear number 15 

Two Rebels on the comeback trail ahead of the new season Down Under
Cork goalscoring hero Mark Keane ruled out of Aussie Rules action; Bríd Stack to wear number 15 

Mark Keane celebrates with his team-mates after getting the goal that beat Kerry last season. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

EVEN if Mark Keane never pulls on a Cork jersey again, his place in Leeside sporting folklore is secure.

Smashing in that last-gasp goal to beat Kerry in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was the stuff Rebel dreams are made of.

However, Keane's priority for 2021 is to nail down a regular spot with Aussie Rules outfit Collingwood, who recruited him from Mitchelstown three years ago. 

Unfortunately, the 20-year-old suffered a setback before the AFL season begins on March 19 when he injured his finger. After undergoing tendon surgery, he could be out of action for up to two months, though he'll still be able to complete a bank of fitness work across preseason.

Mark Keane at a training session last year. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Mark Keane at a training session last year. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

It's a major disappointment for Keane, who in his cameos for Cork against Kerry and Tipp last winter showed the athleticism that attracted the interest of clubs Down Under.

While he was best-known as a Cork minor and U20 footballer before his departure, he was also a real prospect as a hurler as well. 

Senior selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan coached him for a spell with Ballygiblin in 2018 and it's a credit to the work being put in at underage level in the small club in North Cork that they've also produced Darragh Flynn, an U20 Munster winner recently.

In addition, Cathail O'Mahony was the Man of the Match when the Cork U20s completed an epic comeback against Dublin in 2019. Clinical from frees and a real threat in general play as well, he's capable of securing a regular starting position up front for the seniors.

In a fascinating interview with the Irish Examiner recently, Mark Keane revealed he still harbours hopes of hurling for Cork. Indeed last spring when he returned to Mitchelstown, iománaíocht was his focus.

I want to go play hurling as well. I grew up playing both, Cork hurling was big for me.

"I was actually hoping to get back in with the Cork U20 hurlers when I was home in March. Obviously, I had to come back out here because I didn’t know what was happening with the season. But that is what I wanted to do."

So far, Keane has only made one senior start for Collingwood, but his stint in Aussie Rules certainly stood to him when he was sent into the edge of the square in the dying minutes of Cork-Kerry.

“It was all from my position in the AFL as a key defender. I try to engage the person near me and lock away the space where I think the ball is going to land so he can’t get into that space. That is what I did with Tommy Walsh.

“I guarded the space where he wanted to go, where the ball was going. I was guarding it and let him go at the last second and went for the ball.

“I just kicked it. I didn’t even think about it. I could have easily taken a mark or handpassed it over the bar. I just kicked it so I didn’t second think it.”

STACK ATTACK

Meanwhile, Cork ladies football legend Bríd Stack has been given the number 15 geansaí for the upcoming campaign with GWS Giants.

A regular in the number three and six slots when she captured six All-Irelands in Rebel red, she's now battling to be cleared to play in the 15 singlet this season in Australia.

A neck fracture, sustained on her pre-season debut against Adelaide Crows, ruled her out of the opening weekend in the shortened season.

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