There’s a reason Niamh Keenaghan is one of the last remaining doubles players in Cavan. It takes dedication, but she still can’t bring herself to drop either Ladies Football or Camogie.
There is regular conflict here, be it club versus college, county versus college, or even county versus county. Keenaghan will play with Cavan in the Ulster-Camogie Championship opener on April 30 before competing for the footballers in their provincial arc the next day.
It’s going to be another hectic weekend, but she won’t turn her back on her two sisters, who also play for Cavan as adult camogie, nor the women’s footballers who are capable of anything at this year’s TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship.
“We have an excellent chance to beat Donegal and win Ulster,” said Keenaghan. “That would be our first goal and goal. We didn’t do much, we didn’t move up or down, we stayed in the middle. We have to be careful to get or win medals.
“Beating Donegal is our first aim and hopefully winning an Ulster final if we get through this stage. And I think if you look at the Meath ladies and what they’ve done, I don’t think winning an All-Ireland final is too much for anyone.
“But we’re taking it game by game and step by step, even if it’s definitely within our grasp.”
Keenaghan turned 21 on Wednesday but was predictably too busy to celebrate and instead spent her afternoon at the gym before hitting a pitch session in the evening. Hailing from Laragh, just outside Cavan, she plays women’s football and camogie with local club Laragh United.
Her love for Camogie stemmed from her mother Treena’s passion for the game, and that in turn has been ingrained in the lives of Niamh’s two sisters, Clodagh, 22, and Aislinn, 19.
All three competed together for the club and rose through the ranks there where Keenaghan picked up the game aged just four.
They were destined to go on to achieve national fame, but women’s football only became a viable option for Keenaghan when she was in secondary school at Loreto College.
“I got more involved when I was in high school and all my high school friends were into football. I would have played from U-14 to seniors in the county,” Keenaghan said. “Cavan Football is very competitive. I don’t think you understood Cavan Camogie growing up. Football was more competitive, there were more teams.
“In my last year at Loreto we won the All Ireland A final. They recently won the All-Ireland A final again about two or three months ago. I think the reason they do so well is management. The PE teacher, Conor Maguire, is brilliant and had a great love of football when I was there too.
“Ever since we were U-14 it has always been our dream to one day be an All Ireland finalist. Mick Flynn was heavily involved then and is still heavily involved with Cavan Ladies.
“One day he asked us, where do you see yourself? We might only have been 15 or 16 but we thought we were going to lift the All-Ireland Cup with Loreto. It might have taken six years, but we made it.”
That kind of thinking has seeped into Cavan’s Camogie setup as well, with the Keenaghan family forming the backbone of Philip Brady’s team.
“Cavan Camogie has been off the map for years,” Keenaghan said.
“I think our minor went through the ranks but nothing major but we founded three years ago. We won a Nancy Murray Cup our first year, then Division 4 our second year, and then Division 3 this year.
“This is huge for Cavan Camogie. We have the players, it would be stupid not to continue.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/ladies-football/keenaghan-happy-to-put-in-hard-yards-in-pursuit-of-dual-goals-41579295.html Keenaghan likes to use hard yards to complete two goals