'A giant in every way' Taoiseach pays tribute to Kevin Heffernan
Published 25/01/2013 | 18:25
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has led tributes following the death of GAA legend Kevin Heffernan.
The former Dublin player and manager died aged 83 after a long illness.
"Kevin was a giant in every way and to his wife Mary and daughter Orla I extend my deepest sympathy," Mr Kenny said.
The Dublin-born sporting hero, who was granted freedom of the city in 2005, made his name as a footballer at inter-county level in 1958 when he captained Dublin to All-Ireland victory when they beat Derry.
The Dubs went on to win further All-Ireland glory under his management in the 1970s and 1980s.
"Heffo, as he was affectionately known by his adoring Dublin fans, was one of the real legends of the GAA," the Taoiseach said.
Mr Kenny said as a manager, Heffernan revolutionised the way the Dublin team trained.
"His All-Ireland successes brought him into the hearts and homes of Dublin and GAA fans all over the country," the Taoiseach added.
"Heffo's teams rejuvenated GAA in the city and his legacy is there for all to see."
GAA president Liam O'Neill said the sportsman had an "incalculable impact" on the game, in the capital and nationally.
"The Dubs, as we know them, came into being during his era as he restored success to his native county and a pride in the team that was built on the back of the selection of Dublin-born players," Mr O'Neill said.
"He was one of the most charismatic and popular figures the association has ever produced and was at the same time an immensely modest man.
"I would count myself - like countless others - extremely fortunate to have met him on occasions down through the years."
As well as Dublin, Heffernan had a lifelong connection with St Vincent's Club in the city's north side.
He also had strong links with hurling, having achieved minor success in the sport in the 1940s.
Dublin GAA chief executive John Costello said Heffernan's devotion and contribution to football and hurling were unparalleled.
"Kevin Heffernan was ahead of his times as a player, a manager and an administrator," said Mr Costello.
"He revolutionised Gaelic Football in both how players and teams prepared and operated and also in terms of the philosophy and psychology of our national games."
His medal haul as a player included 21 county championships - 15 in football - seven Railway Cups, four Leinsters and one All-Ireland as captain in Dublin's win over Derry in 1958.
He was also named on the GAA's football Team of the Century and Team of the Millennium.
President Michael D Higgins also extended his sympathy to Heffernan's family.
He described him as one of the most distinguished sportspeople of all time.
"I wish to express my deepest sympathies to his wife Mary, daughter Orla, his extended family, his many friends within the GAA and the wider community who will miss him dearly," Mr Higgins said.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also paid tribute to Heffernan.
"While his prowess on the field is well known, it is as the manager which brought the Dublin footballers to glory in the seventies and eighties that he will be best remembered," said Mr Adams.
Mr Martin said the sporting legend will be remembered with "great affection and respect".