Club focus: Enniskillen Santos
By the age of 51, most junior footballers have retired to the clubhouse, but not Enniskillen Santos' Joe Keenan.
Keenan has been plying his trade in the Fermanagh & Western Football League for over 40 years, and has no intention of hanging up the boots any time soon.
“I'm 51 now and I've been playing since I was 15. I've six Fermanagh League titles, seven Mulhern Cups and one Junior Cup. I'd dearly love to add another medal to my collect.
“A lot of people ask me when I'm going to stop playing, but at the moment I don't see any reason to quit. I'm still in shape and I've still got the appetite to play.
“I'll stop the day I'm not longer good enough to play. The day a young lad gives me a roasting on the park is the day I'll throw my boots in the locker. It hasn't happened yet.”
Keenan is the player-manager of Fermanagh & Western Division Two side Enniskillen Santos. While other younger men have struggled to balance managing and playing, Keenan takes it in his stride.
“At first, people used to say to me 'you can't do both'. Well, I think you can.
“I play every week and it has never caused me any problems. I always have someone on the line who I can trust, to help me out.
“My two sons also play for the club and they've the right attitude for football. They're hungry to win and they don't go out on a Friday night. We've a young team and I enjoy working with them.”
Santos suffered a blow last week when they lost 3-1 to local rivals Erne Rovers in the Junior Cup.
Manager Keenan, was devastated by the result.
“At the start of the season, one of our main aims was to do well in the Junior Cup, so it was a bitter disappointment to be knocked out of it.
“We are a division above Erne Rovers and we were the favourites, so to lose 3-1 really hurt everyone at the club. It's a big blow because we've had a great season up until last week and we really thought we could go far in the Junior Cup.
“I found it hard to answer the phone for a few days after the game, because I knew the local press would be calling, wanting to know what had happened.
“But that's football. We've just got to focus on the league and the Mulhern Cup now.”
Santos are currently fourth in Division Two, but their manager believes they can still claim promotion.
“I think Kesh have the division wrapped up, so everyone else is fighting for second place.
“Kesh are in a position now where they can afford to lose a few games and they'll still be leading the league, which is a nice position to be in.
“But we are 10 points behind St. Patrick's with two games in hand, and two games against them to play, so it's all to play for.
“As a club, we climbed from the third to division to the top flight, only to drop back down again, so our aim has always been to get back into the First Division. Hopefully we can achieve that this year.
“If you want to attract the best players in Enniskillen to your club, you have to be in the top division.”
As a veteran of the Fermanagh football scene, Joe Keenan believes that Enniskillen should have achieved more over the years.
He explained: “There are a lot of clubs in Enniskillen and not that many players, so the talent pool is spread out. It's a shame because if we all worked together I'm sure Enniskillen could have a team in the Irish League, as the town as produced many good players over the years.
“We now Ballinamallard United six miles down the road playing in the Premiership. They're a very professional outfit and deserve a lot of credit.
“I try and run Santos in a professional manner, with help from Tucker McCaffrey, but there is only so much you can do. Hopefully we can continue to improve the club.”
Name: Enniskillen Santos
League: Fermangh & Western Division Two
Ground: Lakeland, Enniskillen
Colours: Red and White
Gaffer: Joe Keenan
Skipper: Gary Ramsey, goalkeeper
Sharpshooter: Sean Corrigan
Most Skilful: Brendy McDonald
Hard Man: Brian McClean – brother of Wigan's James McClean
Best Moment: With Santos, reaching the Junior Cup semi final five years ago
Club Man: Thomas 'Tucker' McCaffrey – There wouldn't be a club without him
Belfast Telegraph Digital