CORK dual star Fiona Keating enjoyed great success in 2020.
The 19-year-old GAA player won senior club county titles with Courcey Rovers and West Cork, in camogie and football, respectively.
Last week, she was one of four students from Mary Immaculate College (MIC) awarded bursaries in honour of MIC graduate and Tipperary footballer, Rachel Kenneally.
The Rachel Kenneally Memorial Award, a bursary funded by the Munster Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association, was announced by MIC last February, in honour of Rachel, who passed away in 2018, at the age of 26.
Keating, who has represented all the Cork underage teams in both codes, is one of the most exciting female players in the country. She is tipped to enjoy a bright future in both camogie and football.
The forward helped her beloved Courcey Rovers capture the senior camogie championship for the first time. Rovers had been in the senior grade for 21 years to no avail, until last September.
Rovers defeated Inniscarra 5-12 to 1-12, with Keating contributing 3-2. This heroic performance in the county final ensured she was Player of the Match.
Courcey Rovers were captained to county championship glory by Karyn Keohane, who is full of praise for the impact Keating has made on their senior team in recent years.
“Fiona is a very special player. She is equally as talented at football and camogie,” Keohane says.
“She has an unbelievable attitude to both sports and she is very humble, despite all that she has achieved at such a young age. Fiona was brilliant in the county final. To score a hat-trick was a great achievement.
Keating had clinched the first part of her unique senior county double a fortnight previously, when she played a big part in helping the West Cork senior footballers secure their first championship title. West Cork defeated the reigning champions, Mourneabbey, by two points, in an enthralling final.
Keating, who lined out at corner forward, played a big part in West Cork’s maiden county final triumph. She enjoyed a brilliant campaign all through for the senior team. She scored five goals in their semi-final win against Aghada.
West Cork senior manager, Brian McCarthy, praised Keating’s huge contribution to their great success and highlighted her “attitude” as her strongest attribute.
“Fiona is a phenomenal talent. She has a fabulous attitude,” McCarthy said. “She is always striving for perfection. She is always working hard to improve and she is determined to achieve her goals.
"She is always willing to learn and soak up any advice. Her skill levels and her speed are also huge assets. She is also a great team player. She just loves playing. She just wants to get out and improve every time she gets out on the pitch.
"Fiona was a big player in our success last year. She has a huge future ahead of her.”
The talented teenager started the 2020 season on a high note, helping the Kinsale Community School team win an All-Ireland basketball title, and she again displayed all her sporting prowess with a brilliant individual display. She also helped her school team win a Munster football final in 2020, in February.
Keating also combined her sporting success with academic excellence: She completed her Leaving Certificate last June. She is now studying maths and business teaching in Mary Immaculate College.
The dual star is still coming to terms with her phenomenal achievements last year, which compensated for the acute disappointment of previously losing three county finals.
“The aim last year was to win one county final,” Keating said.
"We’ve always been there or thereabouts with the West Cork senior footballers. To finally go that one step further, and win the county final, was just unreal.
"From a camogie perspective, I suppose, we learned a lot from our first county final appearance in 2018. We played very well on the day, against Inniscarra. It was a great feeling to bring the cup home.”
Keating, who will turn 20 in June, was also a member of both the Cork senior camogie and football panels last season. There are early suggestions she is planning to concentrate solely on playing senior inter-county camogie this year. Whatever path she chooses, she is destined to enjoy more success and glory days.