Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Crusaders goalkeeper Keenan back at scene of eight-goal shame

The date was October 18, 2010 and there was no hiding place to escape the shame, embarrassment and humiliation for Chris Keenan.

The Crusaders goalkeeper conceded EIGHT goals against Linfield at Windsor Park and after the game his manager, Stephen Baxter, criticised him publicly.

Keenan was so distraught he thought about walking away from the game. If he couldn’t do a job for the team then what was the point in carrying on?

But after talking to Baxter and Crues goalkeeping coach Roy McDonald, the former Larne stopper found the courage to stick to his shot-stopping task.

The 8-1 hammering in the most one-sided Carling Premiership fixture of the season will live on in Keenan’s nightmare regardless of the outcome of today’s Irish Cup final against Linfield.

The 23-year-old returned to the scene of the crime — Windsor Park — with his own personal demons to exorcise.

“I can only speak for myself and the 8-1 was an absolute hiding and the manager rightly criticised me,” he said.

“There were times when I thought ‘do I really want to be doing this?’ It was an absolute embarrassment and you couldn’t say anything else.

“Walking away was in the back of my mind. I spoke to Roy (McDonald) and Stephen (Baxter) and I said I wanted to take a break from the game.

“It was one of those nights when I just thought I couldn’t get out of the rut. A few games after it I was still ropey and the gaffer pulled me to the side and said ‘listen come on I know you’re better than this, you can get your form back’.

“Now I have kicked on and feel the way I did when I first came here.

“The manager also said to me ‘prove you want to be here and you want to stay’ and they have given me a two-year contract.”

With a new deal at Seaview agreed, Keenan is looking to the future, but not all his Windsor Park experiences keep him up at night.

“I made a few saves in the 2009 final but (Colin) Coatesy defended like a gladiator, like a one-man show,” he added.

“We had a 40-year-old Gary Smyth beside him performing heroics.

“The 8-1 game is long gone now and we lost three points from it. If Linfield had won 1-0 they would still have got only three points.”

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