Saturday 25 January 2020

Quiet hero played game like his life

John Egan played on, and sometimes captained, the most star-spangled Gaelic football teams ever fielded by Kerry -- one might say, by any county.

Yet his name does not spring readily to the lips of those fans, young and old, who can rattle off the list: Jack O'Shea, Eoin Liston, Pat Spillane, Mike Sheehy . . .

But perhaps that was part of his genius and will be part of his legacy. Nobody recognised his worth better than his famous team-mates. Yesterday, though shocked by the news of his death aged 59, they rallied to stress his importance to the team and call him "the best corner-forward ever".

He played with Kerry from 1973 to 1984. He experienced the never-to-be-forgotten Kerry-Dublin rivalry of the 1970s, the four-in-a-row of 1978 to 1981, and the devastation felt when the team failed to pull off a record five consecutive all-Ireland wins.

It was ironic that a crucial late goal by Offaly's Seamus Darby beat Egan's team. For Egan himself had a habit of scoring crucial goals at crucial moments. That ranked among several invaluable qualities, like his ability to "read a game".

And a higher tribute still was paid to him yesterday by another team-mate, Paidi O Se: "A magnificent gentleman who never fell out with anyone." Who could say better?

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