'He was bigger than life and so fit and strong' - Former Galway hurler Tony Keady has passed away, aged 53
Former Galway hurler Tony Keady has passed away after suffering a heart attack on Tuesday morning.
The Galway county board confirmed to Independent.ie that Tony passed away at around 12.30 overnight.
The 53-year-old was in Croke Park on Sunday to watch the Tribesmen overcome Tipperary in a titanic battle. He was taken ill in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Keady landed the Hurler of the Year award in 1988, the last time Galway won and All-Ireland, and was also pivotal to their success in 1987.
He was controversially banned from taking part in the 1989 semi-final defeat to Tipperary for playing in the United States.
Keady was one of only three Galway players to win the Hurler of the Year Award (Joe Connolly in 1980 and Joe Cooney in '87 are the others).
The Killimordaly clubman is widely regarded as one of the best centre backs to play the game.
He leaves behind his wife Margaret and their four young children who live in Frenchfort in Oranmore where the former hurler worked as the caretaker in Calansanctius College.
Irish Independent columnist Cyril Farrell, who managed that Galway team in 88, told Morning Ireland: "It's hard to believe. I talked to him outside the match on Sunday.
"He was always in great form and always up for the craic.
"He never missed a match day. Great family man. Brilliant hurler, brilliant player and the bigger the occasion, the better he played.
"He'd believe that if there were 70,000 in Croke Park, that they'd come to see him play and that this is what he was training for.
"He was a free spirit. It's hard to believe. It's unbelievable. He was in great form - he was as fit as a fiddle.
"There was no problem with self confidence, especially on the big day. On all the big occasions he played very, very well.
"Your heart would go out to Margaret (wife) and the kids, they're heartbroken. They'd a few days there in the hospital, hoping and hoping and hoping. Everyone hoiping.
"He was bigger than life and so fit and strong, he's the last person that if you looked at him you could think that this would happen, but that's life.
"It's a very sad day for Margaret and the kids and for everyone in Galway because this guy was known everywhere."