Talented midfielder Tom Keogh has surprised Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes by joining rival club Wagga Tigers.
Keogh had verbally committed to MCUE and was a regular at the Goannas’ pre-season training up until this week, when he decided to make the switch.
“I can’t not play with my cousins and brother at the end of the day,” Keogh said.
“When we were kids, we all lived pretty close together and then have been separated all across Australia. Now with my two cousins getting back to Wagga, it’s hard to go past that opportunity.”
Keogh’s arrival at Robertson Oval is a big coup for Tigers.
The 23-year-old finished equal second in last year’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, voted weekly by the coaches.
He is a Riverina League representative player and was named in the Team of the Year.
It continues a fruitful recruitment campaign for Tigers, who have now added nine quality footballers to their list over the off-season.
Keogh said it was an extremely difficult decision to leave MCUE.
“Bloody oath. Especially with Rowie coming in, I thought he was a really good coach and I liked what I saw of him,” Keogh said.
“I couldn’t justify not going (to Tigers). I did choose to stay at Mango but it wasn’t sitting right with me. It’s not the best way to make the decision but these things take time.”
MCUE coach Jeremy Rowe said the club was disappointed to lose Keogh midway through the pre-season.
“We’re not going to get in a habit of holding players against their wishes and I absolutely understand the wish to play with family is a special one,” Rowe said.
“But at the same time, we’re bitterly disappointed to lose Tom and to lose an elite midfielder that is so important to the group mid-February is obviously disappointing.
“I’m confident our group will step up and cover the loss but we’re not entirely happy with how the scenario has gone down.”