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END-OF-SEASON-GOALS

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Keeva Keenan end of season goals

Keeva Keenan reflects on a great season, and plans for an even better campaign next year.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: JOE DONNELLY

KEEVA Keenan is delighted with the gains she and her Celtic team-mates have made this year, but says their progress is only worthwhile if they carry their form into next season and beyond.

Over the course of the campaign, the Women’s side went toe-to-toe with Glasgow City – having overcome the 13-in-a-row champions 4-1 the last time the sides met, becoming the first side to beat the league juggernauts in three years.

The Hoops’ valiant efforts saw them finish **3rd/2nd** , which for Ireland internationaistl Keenan, last season’s Celtic Player of the Year, sets them up well to challenge for top-spot next year.

You’ve been away on international duty with Ireland, how did you find the 1-1 draw with Greece last week?

It was good, I came on at half-time and played for the entirety of the second-half. We were under a bit of pressure, which we might have dealt with a little bit better. We scored pretty early and conceded late, which is frustrating. We were calm in the first half, but as the second half wore on, things got a bit frantic and chaotic. We struggled to get a foothold in the game, but we did create chances. We should have taken them, but we didn’t and we have to live and deal with that. On the flip-side, our keeper didn’t have too much to do, and Greece didn’t create too much themselves. If we don’t take our chances, we don’t deserve to win, but I still think we were the better team. Greece, to their credit, were feisty, they were up for it, they battled, and we expect them to be up for it when we play them next in Ireland.

You made your international debut in October in a 3-2 home win over Ukraine – was it more nerve-racking coming into the Greece game at half-time?

My debut was a different experience altogether, with the home crowd, the result, a record attendance, it all being new to me. I found out early on that I was starting, and I knew that all my friends and family were out there in the stands watching me. When you’re watching on from the side-lines, that’s always difficult because you can’t influence the game in any way. When you come into a game at half time, you do have time to find your feet and really influence the game. Which is great on one hand, but brings a lot of pressure on the other. You’re one of the freshest players, so you’re expected and required to do a lot of running.

At club level, Celtic have really excelled this season. How have you found things since winning Player of the Year in May?

We’ve really flourished as a team this year, and our results show that. We beat Hibs for the first time in a long, long time, and, of course, we became the only team to beat Glasgow City in three years. With stats like that, that’s really all you need to look at to understand that we’ve come on leaps and bounds this season. If you’d told us at the start of the year we could have taken points off Hibs and Glasgow City, we’d have been delighted with that – but to win, and win in the way we did, that’s brilliant. Given how well we played in some of those games, it’s actually a bit gutting that we didn’t finish higher up the table. And if you’re gutted that you’re not finishing at the top, then I think that tells you all you need to know about where we’re at mentally just now. Likewise, something is obviously going right for us at the moment, I’m really enjoying it, and we’re all enjoying it together. It’s been a long year, but you don’t mind it feeling long when you’re enjoying it.

To beat Glasgow City at all is a massive achievement, but 4-1 is such a convincing score-line…

Aw, that was amazing! I mean, we give full respect to Glasgow City, they’re such a good, such a dominant side, who’ve been absolutely amazing for, what, 13 years? They’re a team of professionals, too. Even when they’re not playing well, you could be watching them, thinking this could be a game that could lose, and then they score a few goals and win pretty convincingly. Even if they’re not on the top of their game, they know how to grind out results, get the points and that’s why they’re top of the league. You have to respect that. But for us to go up against them and not only take points off them, but to win and bang in four goals – that’s massive! They played a huge Champions League tie through the week before playing us, but we have to capitalise on circumstance and take points off them when and where we can. We did that and we’re delighted. We give them the respect that they deserve, but equally, I think we should be given the respect we deserve as well to come out with the three points.

When Eddie Wolecki Black came in, he appeared to have a clear vision of what he wanted to do here when he joined last year. How’s it been working with him?

It’s been good. Obviously, he’s an inspiration as it is. To come back from what he’s been through is remarkable, and he’s been amazing at Celtic as manager. Again, our results this year have been amazing, and we’ve got even more potential to go further again next year. If we can be more clinical against some of the teams in the league, then we’ve got a good chance of doing that. And that’s not just from Eddie, but from Michael Tuohy and Adam Switzer as well, the boys have been outstanding with us and they put so much into this team and everything that goes on behind the scenes. For me, we had a mental hurdle that we needed to get over with City and Hibs. It was a case of trying to get it into our own heads that we can be as good as them, and even be better. I feel like we’ve gotten over that hurdle now – even in the games we didn’t win, we ran them close – which means that we can enter next season with a clean slate, a fresh mindset and a new determination to take the competition to them. What’s stopping us from finishing second, or, better still, first place next season?

And you’ve added goals to your game this year?

Yeah, I’ve pulled out a couple of worldlies recently! It’s been good, but the girls won’t let me get too carried away with myself. In my career, I’ve only ever scored goals with my head, so to have started banging them in with my feet is a nice touch to add to my game. I hope I can keep that going into next season.

WHAT THE WEB SAYS…

Keeva Keegan – Defender

No.2

Apps: 45

Goals: 2

DOB: 16/08/1997

Signed: January 2018

KEEVA Keenan moved from Ireland to Glasgow back in 2016 joining up with champions, Glasgow City where she won two league titles before moving to Celtic in 2018. Before playing with Irish Women’s National League side, Shelbourne, Keeva began her career at a local boys’ clubs learning the game, moving along the backline playing at both full-back and centre-back positions. At international level, Keeva has just made her debut for the  Irish A Squad thanks to her contribution at youth level, where she won 10 caps at both under-17s and under-19s. Notably, she scored an 86th-minute winner for the under-19s in a UEFA Championship qualifier against England in 2015. With international and Champions League experience, Keenan is looking to add to her pedigree with success in the green and white hoops. Keeva describes herself as a physical full-back who enjoys a battle and bombing forward.


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