Keenan to take charge of Ireland men’s team

By Stephen Leonard

MARK Keenan is relishing the challenge of taking up the post of Head Coach of the Ireland Senior Men’s team.

Staying on as Templeogue Super League Team boss, Keenan will be hoping to, next year, put together a national squad that can emulate, if not better, Ireland’s bronze medal win at the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries.

Mark Keenan 1103783

Keenan possesses a huge amount of coaching experience, having led Templeogue to Super League and National Cup success among other feats.

His appointment will begin from January 1 and will run up until the conclusion of the 2020 FIBA European Championship for Small Countries.

“The job spec is to equal if not better the bronze medal in Europe,” Keenan told The Echo.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of putting a team together for 2020. There are no guarantees and I’m not going to say we’re going to win gold, but we want to do the best that we can.

“There is a great group of players both in the league and players who have been playing abroad. There were three players who have been playing professionally in Italy and the UK who were on that team in the summer.

“I’ll be looking at these players and others, the likes of Aidan Harris. But it all depends on their commitment and availability.

“I just want to try and get the best possible team together. They may not be the best players, but we want them to be the best team,” he insisted

Keenan’s Templeogue side has enjoyed a positive start to their Super League campaign with last Saturday’s 62-76 point victory over Maree making it two from two and keeping them top of the table.

Yet it was by no means a straight-forward victory as Keenan explained: “We had a very poor start. A total contrast to the game against [Belfast] Star.

Really clicked in the third quarter

“We went 23-8 down in the first quarter and dug ourselves a big hole that we had to get out of. We got it back to nine by halftime and, once we got our players clicking and got that momentum we pushed on.

“Several players did very well for us. Lorcan [Murphy] came up with some big scores and Neil Randolph got hot. We really clicked in the third quarter.

“Defensively we got a lot better and slowed them up in the second quarter that allowed us to get it back to nine. We still only had 29 points ourselves at this point, but both ends of the floor we really improved in the third quarter.”

Now looking ahead to the challenge of a Killorglin side that has won their opening two ties, Keenan said “They [Killorglin] had had a great start to the season, winning their two games against Tralee and at home to Moycullen.

“They’re a bit of an unknown quantity. We just have to have the right mentality and get off to a good start like we did against Star.

“If we start against the better sides like the way we did against Maree, we won’t be able to get it back,” he warned.

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