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Tell me all about 'Heffo', Grandad

DES O'Donnell was talking football. Suddenly, he felt his sleeve being tugged.

"Who is Heffo, grandad," asked his little grandson.

In the quietness of his house the next day, that question echoed.

Des was a child of the 1940s. He lived in Clontarf.

"On Sunday mornings, we'd go to watch St Vincent's. I can still remember the corrugated iron shed that was the pavilion," recalls Des.


He can still see the team emerging from that dressing-room. The names are plated in gold - Freaney, Ferguson, Maher, Allen, Crowley, O'Leary, Lavin, Donnelly, Moylan, and "Heffo, with his collar up. Nobody had a body swerve like Heffo. I was hooked."

On one occasion, the nine-year-old Des was taken to Croke Park.

It was the famous National League final of 1953. Fourteen Vincent's men and the goalkeeper, Tony O'Grady, from the Aer Corp. They beat Cavan.

"I was confused because Dublin were wearing the St Vincent's jerseys!

"The Dubs brought such colour and excitement. Country folk loved to see them lose.

"Dublin lost to Kerry in the 1955 All-Ireland final. Life is not a box of chocolates. But I knew Heffo just needed that bit of time, and he led us to the All-Ireland in 1958."

Then came a life-changer for Des. The family moved to the North County. No more Sunday mornings watching the Vins.

"On the day we arrived, I went for a cycle, and with every turn of the wheel, I knew things would never be the same."

Des, "and my St Margaret's wife" moved to Malahide in 1973, just as the Dublin revolution was about to begin.

And long after the golden period ended, Kevin was still at it, out with the club juveniles and helping Dublin GAA in anyway he could.

"I'd like to see his contribution officially recognised. He has left such a legacy," says Des.

The subject of honouring Kevin will be raised at the county convention.

Des would love to walk into Parnell Park someday, point to a statue and say to his grandson.

"There's the man you were asking me about."