Tributes to rugby 'legend' Keane
Rugby legend Moss Keane was today remembered as an icon who ranked among Ireland's greatest sporting legends.
Tributes from the worlds of sport and politics poured in for the much-loved Ireland, Munster and Lions star after he lost a lengthy fight with cancer, aged 62.
Keane was capped 51 times for his country and was part of the famous Munster side that beat New Zealand in Thomond Park, Limerick, in 1978.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he was saddened to hear about the death of one of the great gentlemen of Irish sport.
"Moss Keane was one of the finest rugby players Ireland has ever produced," he said.
"He was among rugby's best known characters and a legend of the game at home and abroad."
Kevin Fitzpatrick, president of Leinster Rugby, said Keane was a larger-than-life figure who would be sadly missed and fondly remembered by a generation of rugby fans.
"Moss Keane was a true icon and a legend of Irish rugby," he said.
"His performances on the field of play mirrored the incredible influence and presence he manifested, which transcended rugby grounds across the world."
Keane made his name first as a Gaelic footballer, playing for Kerry's under-21 side and winning the Sigerson Cup while at University College Cork.
Regarded as a latecomer to rugby, he made his debut for Ireland in Paris in 1974 before going on to win 50 more caps during a 10-year career that also saw him capped for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 1977.
Lifelong friend and former All-Ireland Kerry footballer Jimmy Deenihan, now Fine Gael's sports spokesman, said it was a sad day for all involved in sport, particularly in Kerry.
"[Keane] demonstrated his deep affection for his home county when he said, while on tour with the Lions, that the highlight was 'when I heard that Kerry beat Cork in the Munster Final'."
Mayor of Tralee Arthur Spring said Keane was a renowned adversary on the field and a gentleman off it.
"The word legend is often bandied about, but in the case of Moss it is a tribute that was well and truly deserved," he said.
Sports Minister Mary Hanafin said Keane would be especially remembered as one of Kerry and Ireland's greatest ever sporting heroes.
"Moss was one of Ireland's best-loved figures, both on and off the pitch, a gentle giant of Irish rugby," she added.
Keane is survived by his wife Anne and his two daughters Sarah and Anne Marie.