“As an outsider coming in it’s hard to gauge what a team is like but these guys are phenomenal. I knew from my playing days what the club was like but these guys have blown me away.
“It’s 12 months to the day [yesterday] since I took over and 137 sessions later we are in an All-Ireland semi-final having already been promoted to Division 3 of the county league.”
Keel’s 2013 odyssey was tough and eventful. They had to travel for all eight of their games in Kerry and Munster. Trips to Tarbert, Tralee (three times), Killarney (twice), Fermoy and Mallow have built the character of this side.
Then there was an incredible piece of football theatre against Glenbeigh/Glencar in the Kerry county final. Two points down, three minutes into injury time and Keel are awarded a controversial penalty. Liam Sheehan (a key player for Keel) stepped up, slammed his effort off the post only for it to rebound into his arms for him to goal. Game over. Keel won 1-9 to 1-7. All this after a dramatic 2-18 apiece draw in the Kerry county semi-final against St Pat’s of Blennerville (Keel won the replay 2-14 to 1-10).
It’s the manner of their journey that has pleased Reidy: “It was, without doubt, the toughest path we could have taken. I mean we beat the favourites in every game. Going out to Tarbert last April, they were the favourites. We beat Na Gaeil on their own patch and had to go to Tralee twice before beating St Pat’s. Then in the final Glenbeigh/Glencar were hot favourites but we got over the line again.”
On paper their Munster campaign was mundane with wins against Mitchelstown, Mount Sion and Feohanagh/Castlemahon coming with the concession of just 0-10 from the three games combined.
“They were tough games,” said Reidy. “The final against Feohanagh/Castlemahon [Keel won 0-14 to 0-4] was a tough, physical battle. They tore into us but we stood up to the challenge. We have a never-say-die attitude.
“But, look, that is what we have done. Now we have to look forward and focus on Fuerty this Sunday.”
Reidy has done some homework on the Roscommon and Connacht champions.
“I know that they are 100% confident of beating us. And why wouldn’t they be?” asked Reidy. “They are in the last four of the All-Ireland. They are a strong, physical side and they hunt in packs.
“They have players like Niall Gilroy, Geároid Ennis, and the Bannon brothers (Tom and Eamon). All well able to play. We know what we are up against and must focus now on that job.”
Keel will be without Kieran Foley, he ruptured his achilles in the semi-final draw with St Pat’s last September. Liam O’Shea is also ruled out while all-action midfielder, James Long, is “touch and go”.