MOSS KEANE – mad, mischievous, marauding, magnificent.
His passing early yesterday morning after a typically brave fight with illness will be felt by so many people from home and abroad.
The word “legend” and phrases such as “larger than life” are often used when describing the passing of influential figures in Irish society. In Moss Keane’s case, they don’t even come close.
It’s not often that someone actually gets to play with one of their sporting heroes but I was fortunate to live that dream. To be in Mossy’s presence was always an enlightening experience.
Sharing a hotel bedroom was a challenge in itself – memorable, always fun and full of incident.
In the modern age of supplements and protein drinks, Moss was very much ahead of his time and in the days before an international always had his garlic pills, pollen tablets and some other concoction that I could never figure out ready for consumption on his bedside locker. He took great pleasure in showing me the quality of his latest consignment of eggs and would have two raw in a glass with a drop of milk or orange juice every morning. Sometimes the farm straw was still stuck to them.
When Moss was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer back in February 2009, it came as a great shock not only to himself and his immediate family but to a whole host of close friends, former players and acquaintances of whom there are so many. To those of us fortunate to play with him, we deemed him indestructible. It just made no sense that this colossal hulk of a man could in some way be vulnerable.
Only this day last week, I was fortunate to spend an hour with him at his home in Portarlington with another close friend of his, dating back to those early footballing days in UCC, Dr Con Murphy. It was clear then that he hadn’t much time left but that hour was precious as we recalled some great times and hilarious moments. He was still capable of putting you away with his sharp wit.
His loss will affect a wide range of people, not least his lovely wife Anne and daughters Sarah and Anne Marie. Irish sport has lost a true champion and one of its most endearing characters of all time.
Our Irish team reunions will never be the same again and Moss will never be forgotten. They just don’t make them like him anymore.
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