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Sunday 21 September 2014

Rugby hero Moss Keane has cancer

Ireland and Lions legend seriously ill with the disease but is responding well to his treatment

Published 08/03/2009 | 00:00

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Moss Keane in more recent times
Moss Keane during his playing days with the Lansdowne club

Irish rugby legend Moss Keane is seriously ill with cancer but has rallied well after treatment.

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One of the best-loved figures on and off the pitch, the gentle giant of Irish rugby, who now lives in Portarlington, Co Laois, has been battling the disease for months, according to a friend.

The 60-year-old, from Currow, Co Kerry, played 51 times for Ireland and was also capped by the British and the Irish Lions.

Keane was also a part of the famous Munster side of 1978 that defeated New Zealand in Thomond Park.

A spokesman for the family said they were grateful for good wishes but did not wish to comment further "on a private family matter".

Moss Keane came to rugby late. He played Gaelic football at UCC and won Sigerson Cup honours with the college and played full-back for his native Kerry at junior level.

In his highly-entertaining book, Rucks, Mauls and Gaelic Football, Keane recalled the advice offered by an old friend, Johnny Brosnan: "Johnny told me I might make a decent enough Gaelic player, but I would never be a Kerry senior, I was too big for it. I knew he was right. There were times when I was in tight situations when I felt like a man trying to turn an articulated lorry in a bathroom. He said that rugby might be an option."

Despite the late start in the game, Moss Keane made an immediate impact as a lock forward playing with Lansdowne before getting his international call up. He made his debut on January 19, 1974, against France in Paris and became a fixture in the team for a decade, playing his 51st and final international match against Scotland in March 1984.

He toured New Zealand with Phil Bennett's British and Irish Lions in 1977, making one Test appearance during which he was injured in an infamous off the ball incident.

He worked in the Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Junior Minister Tony Killeen is recovering well after his battle against bowel cancer.

The Minister of State for Agriculture revealed how he was diagnosed with the disease last September and has since undergone two operations .

"I am now half way through six months of chemotherapy -- the treatment is not too bad but you feel bad for a few days afterwards," he added.

He was speaking at the launch of an awareness campaign for bowel cancer, which results in the deaths of 924 people every year, many of whom only seek treatment when it is too advanced after ignoring symptoms.

Mr Killeen said his mother died of the disease in her mid-60s but he was slow to get checked out until his wife kept nagging him to go to the doctor last summer.

"My wife became concerned because of my mother's diagnosis. I was trying to lose weight and went from eighteen-and-a-half stone to fifteen-and-a-half a bit too quickly. It should have dawned on me, it was too impressive."

He believed he was like a lot of men who are too slow to have some niggling problem checked out. Mr Killeen said he underwent a colonoscopy in Ennis General Hospital, which has no waiting list, and was later treated in the Galway Clinic.

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