Huge crowd turn out in Athenry to honour Tony Keady at novel match between Galway legends and 2017 champions
A crowd of over 7,000 people turned out in Kenny Park in Athenry to witness All-Ireland champions Galway take on a team made up of the Tribesmen team from the 1980s who won the Liam MacCarthy Cup three times.
Players from several other counties, along with the victorious Galway minor hurling team and members of the county camogie team also participated in the novel match in memory of former All-Star Tony Keady who died suddenly last month.
The 53-year old was centre-back on the Galway team which won the All-Ireland title in 1987 and ’88 with his performances in the latter year winning him the Hurler of the Year crown.
Mr Keady’s widow Margaret and her four children were present at the unique match. The couple’s daughter Shannon (15), who won an All-Ireland U-16 camogie medal recently, was honoured while their sons Anthony (13) and 11-year old twins Jake and Henry carried the Liam McCarthy Cup as well as the national league and Leinster championship trophies on to the pitch.
Tony Keady’s former colleague and long-standing friend Brendan Lynskey said it was both a happy and sad occasion as they remembered the star hurler.
"It’s been a great week for Galway hurling, Tony would have loved it but thanks to everyone for turning out," said Brendan Lynskey, who also won All-Ireland medals in 1987 and ’88.
Among those participating were 1980s hurlers Joe Cooney and Gerry McInerney, lining up opposite their sons Joseph and Geaoid who were key members in Sunday’s win over Waterford.
Another father and son combination saw 1980s forward Eanna Ryan play against his son Shane, who was on the Galway minor side which defeated Cork on Sunday.
Conor Hayes, team captain in ’87 and ’88, said that there had been wonderful support for the Keady family following Tony’s sudden death last month.
"It’s ironic that we didn’t win it since he was on the team until last Sunday. He was at the semi-final against Tipperary and felt afterwards that we had a great chance this year. It’s wonderful to remember him in this way and for so many people to turn out in wet weather to honour him during Galway’s greatest week," said Hayes, one of the many veterans to don a Galway jersey again.
The family connections continued with camogie captain Heather Cooney playing along with her brother Conor, full-forward on the senior team, while Deirdre Burke, sister of captain David, also lined out.
Offaly’s Brian Whelahan, Colin Lynch and Frank Lohan from Clare, and Ger Hegarty from Limerick were among the hurlers from other counties to participate.
And the attendance also included several members of the Southern Kings rugby team from South Africa who will play Connacht in the PRO14 on Saturday — they arrived in Dublin last Sunday and got caught in the All-Ireland traffic on the way to Galway.
As for the scoreline in the match, referee Christy Browne decided to stop counting after an early flurry of goals from the 1980s team, but a replay has not been ruled out.