Tony Keady’s iconic white helmet was brought to the altar by former teammate Gerry McInerney in one of the most poignant moments at his funeral Mass as Galway hurling said goodbye to one of its finest players.
However, mourners were told by Oranmore parish priest Fr Diarmuid Hogan that while hurling played a big part in Tony’s life, his family was always the main priority. As they had for the removal on Saturday, thousands flocked to the Church of The Immaculate Conception in Oranmore, 10km east of Galway City, where they joined Tony’s wife Margaret, daughter Shannon, 15, and sons Anthony, 13, and twins Jake and Harry, 11, in mourning.
Also present were former teammates from his native club Killimordaly, and Galway, along with representative from Ahascragh-Fohenagh and Oranmore-Maree GAA clubs, and Calasanctius College Oranmore, where Tony was a caretaker.
Tony, 53, died after suffering a serious illness earlier this week.
There was a guard of honour from Killimordaly, Ahascragh-Fohenagh, and Galway players.
At Saturday’s reposal at Tearmann Mhuire in the grounds of the parish church, up to 15,000 mourners queued for hours to pay tribute to the much-loved former hurler of the year.
Tony was centre-back on the Galway team that won All-Irelands in 1987 and 88, was voted Hurler of the Year in 1988, and also won All-Stars in 1986 and 88.
One of his other Galway teammates from that era, Pete Finnerty, brought to the altar the hurley that Tony used when he won the man-of-the-match award against Tipperary in the 1988 decider.
Tony’s daughter Shannon paid a touching tribute to her father and said that he was the greatest centre-back, on and off the pitch.
“Dad is my idol and the great centre-back of all time. He was a warrior and a legend on the pitch but a bigger legend off it,” she said.
“This exact time last week I was sitting on his knee in Croke Park eating Jelly Tots. Dad had them all separated so I would get the purple and red ones.”
President Michael D Higgins was represented at the funeral by aide de camp Captain Eoin Rochford.
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