Friday 24 November 2017

Rugby hero and beloved dad leaves the field

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

MOSS Keane once remarked that if he was to be remembered for anything, he would like people to simply say: "Ah sure, he did his best."

The Kerryman, who was capped 51 times for the Irish rugby team, said that kind of recognition would do him nicely.

More than 800 friends, family members and sportsmen packed St Michael's Church in Portarlington, Co Laois, on a sunny afternoon to say goodbye to Maurice 'Moss' Keane.

Fr Tom Dooley, who was the chief celebrant at the funeral Mass yesterday, said he gave Moss his last Holy Communion at his home on Monday evening. There, the pair watched the final three holes of the Ryder Cup.


If Moss -- a keen golfer, a GAA man and a rugby legend -- loved sport, he loved his family even more.

When he was first diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago, he accepted the "cross of sickness" in the same way he accepted the "crown of glory".

The four cherished women in his life -- his wife, Anne, daughters; Sarah and Anne-Marie; and granddaughter, Ellie -- sat near the coffin. The Kerry GAA jersey, a Munster shirt, an old Irish rugby jersey, a UCC hurling shirt and a Lansdowne rugby jersey sat on top of Moss's remains.

Sarah stood up in front of the congregation and told everyone of her dad who she called the "humblest, gorgeoust soul". He had taken her down a spiritual path during his illness.

The lessons he taught the women in his life and in his dying days will now help them cope with his passing.

Brian Keane described how he shared a double bed with his brother, Moss, in their family farmhouse in Currow for at least 10 years.

"My brother weighed in at 14 pounds at birth," he told mourners to much laughter, before adding: "It wasn't a bad start."

There was always "fun" and "mischief" in the Keane household with Moss about -- and the good times distracted from the poverty.

He remembered how Moss decided raw eggs were the way forward after he heard one of the Kerry greats was a devotee.

Brian was his "ally" as Moss knocked back two cups of eggs before running out to the gable end of the house, ashen faced, to throw up.

But he was determined and raw eggs soon became part of his daily routine.

Fr Tom Dooley earlier told how Moss had fought his "greatest and most courageous battle" over the past two years against sickness and cancer.

He said there was the shock of the diagnosis, the prospect of chemotherapy, the side-effects of treatment, getting better and then the return of the cancer.

He had his "moments of doubt and despair" but these were only ever short-lived as Moss always bounced back quickly.

"He never lost his sense of humour," Fr Dooley added.


Following the Requiem Mass, fellow Kerryman Donal Spring delivered a graveside oration for Keane in the adjoining cemetery.

President Mary McAleese was represented by Capt Murt Larkin and Taoiseach Brian Cowen was represented at the funeral by his aide-de-camp Comdt Michael Treacy.

Others who attended included Dr Martin McAleese, who shared a room with Moss when he studied in Dublin, former Irish rugby player Willie John McBride, Dick Spring and Laois-Offaly TD Charlie Flanagan .

Irish Independent

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