Connolly, Doran, O'Keeffe and Earley enter GAA Hall of Fame

August 18, 2016

The GAA Museum Hall of Fame ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Galway hurler John Connolly and Wexford hurler Tony Doran along with Kerry footballer John O'Keeffe and the late Roscommon footballer Dermot Earley were honoured at a special ceremony at the GAA Museum at Croke Park today. 

GAA President Aogán Farrell, congratulated the players on being named on the prestigious list which acknowledges their massive contribution to the GAA at the highest level over a prolonged period: "I am delighted to welcome fourlegends of our Games as the latest entrants to the Hall of Fame in light of their fantastic contributions to the Games and to the GAA as a whole. 

"These men left an enduring legacy having helped define the GAA experience for a generation of our supporters.  They remain to this day synonymous with all that is good about our great Games - inspirational warriors and sportsmen who played an important rolein preserving and nurturing football and hurlingfor future generations. 

"Dermot Earley, John O'Keeffe, John Connolly and Tony Doran are fully deserving of this distinction and it's another opportunity for us to pay respect and gratitude."

Niamh McCoy, GAA Museum Director, added: "The Hall of Fame acknowledges and celebrates the outstanding performances of some of our games most memorable players." 

The quartet are now in an exclusive group of 42 legends of Gaelic Games who make up the Hall of Fame. 

Dermot Earley - Roscommon, Michael Glaveys & Newbridge Sarsfields
The late Dermot Earley is widely regarded as one of the most popular and charismatic Gaelic footballers of all time.    A born leader on the football pitch, as a player he was equally brilliant at midfield or centre-forward.  

In 1966 Dermot played minor, under-21, junior and senior football for Roscommon, winning an All-Ireland under-21 medal when Roscommon beat Kildare.  He won the first of five Connacht championship medals in 1972. A two-time All Star, he won a National League medal (1979), and two Railway Cup medals (1967 and 1969). 

In 1980 Dermot and his Roscommon team mates suffered a heartbreaking loss to Kerry in the All-Ireland Senior Football Final.  Dermot is regarded by many as one of the greatest players never to have won an All-Ireland senior medal.

Dermot wore the primrose and blue of his beloved Roscommon for 22 years, playing his last county game for Roscommon against Mayo in the Connacht Championship Final in 1985.

Mayo won convincingly that day but the occasion will forever be remembered for the sportsmanship of the Mayo players who carried Dermot Earley shoulder high in recognition of his greatness as a footballer.

John O'Keeffe - Kerry, Austin Stacks, UCD
John O'Keeffe from Tralee was one of the most stylish and accomplished full-backs in Gaelic football history.   A member of the Austin Stacks club, John was part of the Kerry senior team from 1969 until 1984.   During that time, he won seven All-Ireland senior championships, 12 Munster championships, seven National Leagues and eight Railway Cups.   In 1975, he was named Texaco Footballer of the Year and he is a five-time GAA All Star.

He won five Kerry senior county football championships with Austin Stacks and was captain in 1976 when the team went on to enjoy provincial and then All-Ireland success.  While at St. Brendan's College in Killarney, John was part of the side that won the school's first Hogan Cup title in 1969.  He also won a county minor hurling title with Austin Stacks in 1967.

While at college in UCD, John won a Dublin County Championship in 1974, and the Leinster Club Championships and All-Ireland Club Championships in 1973-74 and 1974-75. He also won Sigerson Cup medals in 1973, 1974, and 1975.

Having retired on medical advice after the 1984 Munster Final, John went on to have management roles with the Ireland International Rules team and was a selector with the senior Kerry team.

John Connolly - Galway, Castlegar
John Connolly enjoyed a 14-year senior inter-county career with the Galway hurling team and achieved All-Ireland success with both club and county.   Born in Leitir Móir, John was the eldest of the seven Connolly brothers who played with distinction for Galway and Castlegar.   Alongside his brothers Michael and Joe (captain) he was part of the Galway team that triumphed in the 1980 All-Ireland decider when the Tribesmen bridged a 57-year gap to win the county's first All-Ireland title since 1923.

John arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of 17 when he played with the Galway minor team before later joining the under-21 side.  He would go on to play a key role for Galway for more than a decade, winning a coveted All-Ireland medal in 1980, a National League and two All Star Awards in 1971 and 1979.  His first All Star in 1971 was also Galway's first hurling All Star and in 1980 he was named Texaco Hurler of the Year.  

With Castlegar, he also achieved All-Ireland success when, along with four of his brothers, he won an All-Ireland senior club championship title in 1980.   At club level John won six Galway senior titles and four Connacht championships.

In retirement from playing, John Connolly became involved in team management and coaching. He has served as a coach and selector with the Galway senior team, while at club level he also served as manager of the Castlegar senior team.

Tony Doran - Wexford, Buffer's Alley
In a glittering career, Tony Doran of Wexford may not have been awarded the inter-county silverware his talent so thoroughly deserved, but his fame is spread all over Ireland.  

Just four years after making his senior inter-county debut at the age of 18, in 1968 Tony enjoyed All-Ireland hurling success with Wexford, scoring two clinical goals against Tipperary that changed the pattern of the game. From eight points down at the break, Wexford carved out a historic victory by 5 - 8 to 3 - 12.

In 1976 Tony was awarded an All Star and was named Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1976.  Along with his coveted All-Ireland medal, he won two National League medals in 1967/68 and 1972/73.  

With his club, Buffer's Alley, he won 11 county senior championships and two provincial club championships.  In 1989, at the age of 43, Tony won an All-Ireland senior club title with Buffer's Alley - a victory that is regarded by the legendary Wexford man as the greatest highlight and achievement of his illustrious career.

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