Saturday 16 December 2017

Ex-professional footballer collapses and dies after playing in tournament

John Fallon

A former professional soccer player collapsed and died after playing in an indoor tournament.

Tommy Keane (44), who was one of the first players current QPR boss Harry Redknapp signed when he embarked on his career in management, helped Galway United win the FAI Cup in 1991.

He had participated in an indoor tournament at the Our Lady's Boys Club centre in Sea Road, Galway, yesterday, when he collapsed as he was going home.

The father of one, pictured, was rushed to University Hospital Galway but was pronounced dead.

Family and friends were last night comforting his wife Paula and son Tommy Jnr at their home on Headford Road.

The death is the third to hit the soccer community in Galway city in less than a year.

Yesterday's tournament was in memory of former player and official Noel Crowley, who died last January, while in February, former Irish international Eamonn Deacy, who played for Galway United and Aston Villa, died suddenly aged 53.

Tommy Keane had followed in Eamonn Deacy's footsteps by forging a career in England when Redknapp signed him for Bournemouth in the mid-1980s.

Redknapp spotted the 15-year-old when he brought his side to play a friendly against Galway United.

Long-serving West United official Eamon Howley said a game was organised between U-15 sides and Redknapp went to check out Keane.

"He told me not to identify him, he wanted to see if Tommy stood out. Redknapp watched the teams warm up and before the game started he had Tommy picked out.

"Tommy was knocking balls 30 feet in the air and killing it when it came down. He was extremely skillful and Redknapp was very impressed," said Mr Howley.

Keane spent a few seasons with Bournemouth before moving to Colchester United in 1988 and then he returned home.

The president of the Galway and District League, Michael Geary, said last night that the death had shocked the community.

"We were after having a fantastic day, we honoured the memory of Noel Crowley and we remembered all the others who had passed away.

"It is just so terrible that it ends this way. It is unreal."

Irish Independent

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