STEPHEN Keogh insists he has not been turned off coaching by his short-term tenure as Shannon head coach which was cut short this week.
Shannon RFC announced that thirty year-old Keogh and backs coach Eoin Cahill were stepping down from their posts in the ‘best interest of the club’ following their disappointing start to the AIL season.
Nine-time AIL winners Shannon are currently bottom of the 1A after a run of four consecutive defeats this season. The club has confirmed that former Connacht player Brian Tuohy and James Hickey, both members of Shannon’s U-21 coaching set-up, will take temporary charge of their first team until Keogh’s successor is appointed. Keogh’s tenure as Shannon coach lasted for 18 months. Former Munster Academy Manager Ian Sherwin is believed to be among the favourites to succeed Keogh.
Shannon face a crucial AIL derby clash with second-placed Garryowen at Dooradoyle this Friday night (7.30pm).
Stephen Keogh said: “From my point of view, I believed it was in the best interests of the club that I step aside and that a new voice take over.
“The reality was that results were not going our way. I really enjoyed my time coaching, but sometimes you don’t get the results you are after. I will always be a Shannon man. There is certainly no bitterness between myself and the club.
“My experience with Shannon has not put me off getting back into coaching in the future. I enjoyed the job. But if you are losing games by 30 or 40 points you are in the firing line. We exhausted all options open to us in terms of trying to turn things round, but it didn’t happen for us.
“Rugby has been important to me. It has been my livelihood for 12 years. I am working in the city in the financial services area and I will be putting my full concentration into that.”
Thirty year-old Keogh, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury this season, said he would be available to line out for Shannon in the future, if the club required his services.
“I would be happy to help Shannon out from a playing perspective if they needed it,” Keogh said.
“But at 30 years of age, I am not motivated by personal success. I would not be interesting in just getting back into the team if I was depriving a young fella of the opportunity to play. Shannon have a lot of good young back-row forwards coming through. I definitely believe Shannon can get themselves out of the position they are in. There are enough people there to turn it round. We were hampered by injuries in the early part of the season, with the likes of Tadhg Bennett, Dan Heffernan, Troy Smith, who has now returned back to New Zealand, and myself sidelined with injury. When the players come back, it will be a big boost. With Friday night’s game with Garryowen, the players will realise that it is up to them now. They are a great bunch of lads.
“Maybe someone with fresh ideas coming in can help bring about a change in the side’s fortunes.”
Shannon RFC chairman, Jack Keane said: “The process of finding suitable replacements has only just begun.
“However, despite the urgency, our executive committee will not make any decision in haste and will look to carry out the process with all the due diligence expected.”