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Legend's tribute to brave Moss

GRAND Slam rugby legend Jack Kyle spoke yesterday of his deep sadness at the death of fellow Ireland hero Moss Keane this week.

Dr Kyle (84) represented Ireland, the British and Irish Lions and the Barbarians during the 1940s and 1950s, winning the Grand Slam in 1948.

He was named the Greatest Ever Irish Rugby Player by the IRFU in 2002 .

Speaking to the Irish Independent after delivering a speech at the annual King's Hospital annual sports awards ceremony, he said Mr Keane -- who died aged 62 on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer -- was "a giant".

"I never played with Moss but I often met him at dinners and was often sitting at the same table as him," he said.

"He was one of those characters that once you had seen him he was not forgotten, not only for his size of course which was tremendous, but for his friendliness, his wonderful Kerry accent and the lovely remarks he would make.

"I met him earlier this year and it was clear that he had lost weight, but he didn't make anything of it. He was prepared to fight it and it was wonderful to see the courage he had in knowing he was facing this serious illness. He kept that spirit right up until the very end.

"Anytime I met him, he was never the sort of chap who wanted to talk about it particularly -- he wasn't going to fuss about it with other people. It was just remarkable how strong he was in mind in knowing he had this problem.

"I was very saddened to learn of his death -- especially at the age of 62. Anybody in rugby, or who had ever met him, would regret his passing. He will certainly be missed by many people."

Dr Kyle also spoke about how sport was different since he last played in 1963. "When I played for the Irish team, the first time we would ever meet as a group was the day before the game. We would only find out whether we would be playing in the next international by listening to Radio Athlone that evening.

"There is a tremendous amount of pressure on players nowadays at the top professional level. They have coaches who decide their every move, physiotherapists, masseurs, psychologists and so on," he added.

At the event, Dr Kyle presented World Junior Sculling finalist Turlough Hughes (19) from Westport, Co Mayo with the Hall-Cooper Cup for Sportsmanship.

Irish Independent