Galway legend Tony Keady passes away aged 53

August 10, 2017

Galway great Tony Keady

Former Hurler of the Year Tony Keady has passed away at the age of 53.

Galway county board confirmed the news after the two-time All-Ireland winner took ill early on Tuesday morning.

Mr Keady was subsequently rushed to University Hospital Galway and was being treated in the intensive care unit before it was confirmed that he passed away in the early hours of this morning.

On Sunday he attended Galway's All-Ireland SHC semi-final victory over Tipperary at Croke Park.

The Killimordaly clubman was part of the Tribesmen's last Liam McCarthy Cup triumph in 1988, having won his first Celtic Cross the previous year against Kilkenny.

It was the former year which saw him winning the Hurler of the Year accolade, along with a second All Star award, having played a starring role in one of the greatest half-back line's in the history of the sport.

With the solid Peter Finnerty at number five, the attack conscious Ger McInerney on the left and the Killimordaly ace manning the middle, patrons of the time saw probably the greatest half-back line in hurling history. 

Tony was teak tough and belonged to the old school of no nonsense centre half-backs. He was prepared to put his body on the line yet was still blessed with an abundance of skills.

The hand in the air to pluck the sliothar from the sky and that long delivery from play or per placed ball deep into opposing territory. Tony had his own individual stance while standing over that same placed ball.

Tony Keady was an outstanding minor but first shot to prominence on the winning Galway All Ireland under 21 team of 1983 as Tipp were beaten. The Killimordaly star manned his centre half-back spot with a young Pete Finnerty on his right.

Promotion to the senior squad followed. Although warm favourites on both occasions Galway were beaten in the All Ireland deciders, of 85 (Offaly) and by Cork the following September. Then came 1987 and 1988 as the Tribesmen were declared the undisputed champions of the hurling world. The old dogs of Kilkenny were outscored in '87 while a fine late burst had Tipp reeling in a windy Croke Park the following September.

The name Tony Keady was to the forefront in an argument that developed in the summer of 1989. Many older Galway hurling supporters are still bitter at how matters developed. Lets just say that a Keady-less Galway were beaten by an emerging Premier County on All Ireland semi final day.

Galway's defeat to Cork in the 1990 All-Ireland final saw Keady lining out in his fifth All-Ireland final. Again Galway were warm favourites but playing with the aid of a storm did not put enough first half ticks on the scoreboard. The Rebels came strong after the break and brought the Liam McCarthy Cup south.

After his playing career ended Tony Keady continued to immerse himself in the game, becoming involved with several teams, including the Galway U21s.

Paying tribute on behalf of Galway GAA, county board chief executive John Hynes said this morning that the county has "lost a legend of the game".

"People are shocked. A week which started with such joy as our seniors and minors reached All-Ireland finals is now ending in grief. All we can do is support the Keady family and on behalf of Galway GAA I wish to send our condolences to his family and his many friends. We have lost a legend of the game," said Hynes.

Tony Keady is survived by his wife Margaret and their four young children.  

We will not see his like again.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.

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