GALWAY hurling and the greater community – sporting and otherwise – are in a state of shock following the passing of former hurling legend and double All-Ireland senior winner, Tony Keady at Galway University Hospital last night (Wednesday).
Earlier in the week, Tony, who lived and worked in Oranmore, had suffered a suspected heart attack, leading to a bedside vigil by his loving family and numerous friends.
On Wednesday evening, a special mass was said to pray for Tony’s recovery at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Oranmore, which was attended by hundreds of people, including former team-mates at club and county level and a number of members from the current Galway senior squad.
Aged just 53 years, the father of four had appeared to be in good health recently. He been very active on the local GAA circuit, coaching in his adopted Oranmore while he was also part of Ahascragh/Fohenagh’s senior hurling management set-up this year.
A native of Killimordaly, whose senior hurlers he had managed in 2016, Tony lined out at centre-half back on the Galway senior hurling team that won back-to-back All-Ireland titles in 1987 and ’88.
Indeed, his exploits in ’88 secured him his second All-Star award while he also became only the third Galway man ever to pick up the ‘Hurler of the Year’ accolade after Joe Connolly (1980) and Joe Cooney (1987).
It is generally considered that Galway would possibly have completed the three-in-a-row of Liam McCarthy Cup wins in 1989, had not the talented defender been suspended for playing in the United States without permission earlier in the Summer.
Many felt Tony had unfairly been made an example of but, in any event, it was Galway’s fate to lose that year’s semi-final to eventual All-Ireland champions Tipperary.
A larger than life figure, with a rapier wit, Tony, who was in Croke Park last Sunday to witness the Tribesmen’s win over Tipperary in an epic All-Ireland semi-final, was a very popular character both in Galway and across the country.
In addition to his love of hurling, Tony was also a keen golfer, supporting many of the clubs Am Am fundraisers that took place around the county and country.
Residing in Frenchfort in Oranmore, where he worked as caretaker in Calasanctius College, Tony had been involved in coaching hurling in the local secondary school.
Indeed, among the many to pay tribute to Tony has been Oranmore GAA Club, which praised Tony for the work he did at the college and the club.
“In recent years, he became involved in the club as his children grew and [he] was a constant sight at the pitches in Oranmore and Maree and, indeed, all over the county.
“Tony will be remembered for his hurling ability but anyone who knew him will remember his personality, his laugh and his smile,” concluded the club statement.
Tony is survived by his wife Margaret, daughter Shannon and sons Anthony, Jake and Harry along with his extended family and a long line of friends.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé!