Huge crowds turned out to say their final goodbyes to hurling great Tony Keady (53), when his funeral took place in Oranmore at the weekend.
Some 15,000 people paid their respects on Saturday with people queuing from early in the day. On Sunday for his funeral Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Oranmore, the church was full to capacity with crowds gathering outside to hear the homily.
The hurling legend, who was also heavily involved in coaching, passed away in University Hospital Galway last Wednesday night, 9 August, after a short illness. He is survived by his wife Margaret and their four children, his wider family, friends and colleagues.
The Frenchfort, Oranmore resident was a double All Ireland winning player and All Star who played hurling with his local club Killimordaly. He was a member of Galway senior team in the 1980s and 1990s.
Following his tragic passing, the Hurler of the Year was widely remembered for his hurling prowess and for his generous personality.
Guards of honour
Oranmore-Maree GAA Club, Killimordaly GAA Club, students from Calasanctius College, where Mr Keady worked as a caretaker, and his teammates from the 1980s all formed guards of honour for the hurling great on Sunday.
Among the large crowds was the Aide-De-Camp to President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, Captain Eoin Rochford, along with hurlers and footballers from across the country including members of the Tipperary team from the 1980s along with their then manager Babs Keating.
Fr. Diarmuid Hogan, Parish Priest of Oranmore, led the Mass alongside priests from the diocese and beyond. Many members of Mr Keady’s family took part in the funeral Mass including his children.
Symbols of his life were brought to the altar during the ceremony including an Oranmore GAA jacket, a Killimordaly jersey, a Galway polo shirt, a golf ball and the last hurley made by Mr Keady. The final song sung at the cemetery after his burial in Renville Cemetery was ‘The West’s Awake’.
Leading the tributes to Mr Keady was President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, along with Galway County Board. “Galway GAA is gripped in a cloud of deep sadness and sorrow with the news of the sudden and untimely passing of the great Tony Keady. On behalf of the Galway GAA community at home and aboard, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Tony’s wife Margaret and his family,” said the board.
Their tribute offered condolences to all of the members of his club Killimordaly, his adopted club Oranmore-Maree and to all of Mr Keady’s fellow inter-county panellists on the great Galway hurling teams of the 1980s and 1990 and to his numerous friends and colleagues.
Eileen Mannion, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, also paid tribute. “I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of our great Galway hurling hero, Tony Keady.
“Tony was a true Galway sporting hero – a two-time All-Ireland winner, Hurler of the Year in 1988 and a member of the last Galway hurling team to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup.”
She said that Mr Keady epitomised everything that is great in hurling. “He was athletic, graceful, strong and most of all skillful. We love our heroes in Galway and we have had many but the great Number 6, with the white helmet, occupies a privileged place in Galway sporting history and among the people who love hurling throughout the world. Conor Hayes, the Galway Captain of the MacCarthy winning team said of Keady, ‘He was one of our best players, when he turned it on there was nothing to touch him’.”
She continued, “Tony Keady touched so many lives throughout his life. He passed on his love and passion for the game to the many young Galway hurlers he trained over the years. Tony was most of all a true hero to his wife and children who will feel his loss deeply in the months and years to come.”
“To Tony Keady’s wife Margaret and children, Shannon, Anthony, Jake and Harry, his extended family, students and staff of Calasanctius College, Galway GAA and the hurling world I extend my heartfelt sympathy on the untimely loss of a great family man and our hurling hero. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”
A campaign has begun on Facebook to arrange a standing ovation and applause for Tony Keady on the sixth minute of the All Ireland Hurling Final in Croke Park on Sunday 3 September, when Galway take on Waterford, the first time the two teams have met in the final.