Galway hurling was sent into mourning last week with the untimely death of one of their greatest ever players, Tony Keady. Aged 53, Keady was taken ill before passing away last Thursday. It turned Galway’s hurling’s week from ecstasy and empathy. Having qualified for the 2017 All-Ireland final following a cracking win over Tipperary, Galway soon lost one of the main players of their last All-Ireland victory in 1988.
That 1988 success was backboned by a half-back line of Pete Finnerty, Tony Keady and Gerry McInerney and speaking ahead of the 2017 All-Ireland final, a member of the current half-back line, Pádraig Mannion reminisced over the loss of the man at the heart of Galway’s last All-Ireland winning half-back line;
“Tony and his family will definitely be on our minds over the next few weeks. I really got to know him and his family personally and I’m really honoured that I did get to know him”.
“The way he wore the jersey with a smile on his face, he really embraced the big occassions. He really enjoyed them and its definitely something, it puts into perspective coming into a game like this, you don’t see all the hype as a negative, you can enjoy it and embrace it”.
The victory over Tipperary was well received by all Galway hurling folk, and Mannion was in no doubt that Tony Keady would have been most satisfied;
“I knew he was up at the game and he would have been absolutely delighted. The rivalry (between Galway and Tipperary) that was there with his team, he would have been on an awful high after that game”.
News of Keady’s illness came through early in the week after the semi-final success and Mannion spoke of his final dealings with the 1988 Hurler of the Year;
“It was the Monday before the (Tipperary) game. We went up to club training. We just went up for a puck around while the lads were training”.
“He just said to me to think of him when you’re out on the pitch because of the rivalry with Tipperary and it was a fairly nice thing, the last thing that he said to me”.
Since his unfortunate passing, stories of Keady’s humorous side have been told. Mannion added to this, telling a story of how himself and Keady debated modern day hurling in comparison to when Keady played in the 1980’s;
“We have a gym beside the pitch, and he used to laugh at me when I would be in there before training, as I don’t think they (1980’s team) had too much of that”.
“The amount of games you play now compared to back then. I used to be slagging him about whatever amount of games that he played. And he used say to me that 10 or 12 games is better than 10 years of s***te”.
Despite the loss of Tony Keady, Mannion is hoping that he can take inspiration from the way Keady played on the big occassions;
“It was a massive shock. But it’s something you can take a lot from in the lead up to such a game like this. The way he wore the jersey, the way he played and the way he enjoyed it”.
Mannion will be hoping that he, alongside Gearóid McInerney (son of Gerry who played in 1988) and Aidan Harte will have similar tales written about them as a half-back line after September 3rd. The loss of Keady is sure to add another dimension to what is already a huge All-Ireland final against Waterford.
Listen to this week’s edition of The 16th Man with Dominos;