Galway's double All-Ireland winning captain Conor Hayes said the death of Tony Keady has come when the former hurler of the year still had so much to offer to the game.
Hayes said that Keady was an inspirational figure to play alongside and he was just in the process of passing on all that wisdom to the children at Calasanctius College where he worked in Oranmore, and to the many other teams he was helping.
''The last time I spoke to him was about six or eight weeks ago. I was out to the house to him and he had goalposts out the back. He had me out showing his lads how to take frees, and it was they who were showing me.
"Tony was also showing me the hurls that he was making for the lads and was wondering was he doing it right. He looked in great shape and I remarked on it that day.
"He took over the Ahascragh-Fohenagh team and wanted my thoughts on whether he was doing things right there too.
"But he was a great guy and when it came to the big day he always stood up. In many ways, he was the complete centre-back and one of the best hurlers of that generation.
"You just wish well the family in this tough time it must be so tough for them.
"The Galway hurlers might get a bit of motivation out of this for their All-Ireland but it's a sad time for everyone in the hurling community," added Hayes.
His daughter Shannon recently made it on to the Galway U-16 camogie team and Tony was as proud as punch. His sons Anthony (13) and twins Jake and Harry (11) play for Oranmore-Maree, a club where he became immersed after setting up home there with his wife Margaret. Keady was from Killimordaly, about ten miles away, and he inspired them to their only Galway title in 1986.
Pat Malone, midfield on those Galway teams of '87 and '88, is a native of Oranmore-Maree and recounted how the Keadys were involved in everything in the community.
"He was a larger than life character around here in all the clubs, whether it was GAA, camogie, soccer, all the kids are very, very talented and Tony brought them everywhere and anywhere and had them all involved. There's a deep sense of shock since they first heard about it a few days ago."
John Hynes, chief executive of Galway GAA, said the death had stunned the county, not least because he was such a popular figure.
"He was very much admired and loved by all of the communities that he was involved in and all of the teams that he was involved in. He loved and thrived on the big occasions. I have often heard said that in All-Ireland finals Tony went out there with the view that they all came to see him. It's just devastating news and it's hard to put into words how the GAA community feel now in Galway."