THE world of GAA is in mourning after Dublin football great Kevin Heffernan died today aged 83 after a long illness.
‘Heffo’ was a respected player for the St Vincent’s club and at inter-county-level but he made his name as manager of the great Dublin team of the 1970s who went on to win the All Ireland three times.
He took over as Dublin manager in late 1973 and became a hero in the capital when he led the Dubs to the Sam Maguire trophy in his first year in charge. His team won three Leinster titles in a row and another All Ireland during a period of intense rivalry with Kerry.
He stepped down in 1976 only to return in 1979 and four years later guided the Dubs to his third All Ireland with victory over Galway in 1983. He retired as inter-county manager in 1984.
Heffo won an All Ireland medal as a player in 1958 and was named on the Football Team of the Millennium where he made the left half-forward position his own.
His medal haul as a player also included 21 county championships (15 in football, six in hurling), seven Railway Cups, four Leinsters. His All-Ireland win came as captain in Dublin’s victory Derry in 1958. He served as international rules manager in 1986 and was granted the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 2004.
GAA president Liam Ó Néill offered his condolences to the family this afternoon.
Mr O'Neill said: “ Kevin Heffernan had an incalculable impact not only on gaelic games in the capital but nationally helping as he did to forge one of the defining rivalries of the association while at the same time assisting in the reinvigoration of the GAA scene in Dublin.
“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.
“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."
A statement from the GAA said Heffo revolutionised football in the capital during the 1970s and 80s and was credited with changing the image and perception of the gaelic games in the city and county.