Babs Keating and Eddie Keher in tribute to Jimmy Doyle

Babs Keating and Eddie Keher last night paid their respects to the Tipperary hurling great Jimmy Doyle who passed away yesterday.

As a child, Doyle idolised Christy Ring but the sentiment of respect and appreciation was mutual. “I suppose the best tribute I could pay him,” says Keating, “was when I was having lunch with Ring in 1966 or ‘67 in Mallow and in those days all the talk was about hurling no matter who came to the table.

“He was putting me under pressure about who was the best ever but as we walked out Ring said, ‘Babs, if Jimmy Doyle was as strong as you and I nobody would ever ask who was the best’.

“When you look at his scoring record, it said everything. You’d see 1-8 and 1-9 alongside his name in the newspaper every day.

“He was unbelievable that way. I remember being in Mitchelstown in ‘56 and he would have been only 16 or 17 at the time.

“They put him in a junior hurling match and it was like Rory McIlroy against me on a golf course. Anywhere hurling is played he will be remembered.”

Keher, a fellow member of the team of the millennium and century, couldn’t speak higher of Doyle as a hurler. He also paid complement to his prodigious talents as a teenager.

“He was brilliant. The first time I saw Jimmy Doyle was playing in a Munster colleges game against Leinster. I was in my first year in (St) Kieran’s and there was a lot of talk about another player but it was Jimmy Doyle who stood out.

“I was always a great fan of his even though we were great rivals.

“Jimmy was also a gentleman both on and off the field and such a beautiful striker of the ball.

“We’re all very saddened in Kilkenny by his passing. I was supposed to meet him about five weeks ago. He was to come down here with Murty Kennedy from Freshford but he was tired and said he’d come down another day. He made such a great contribution to Tipperary hurling in the 1960s.”

Former Kilkenny hurler Michael Kavanagh paid tribute to Doyle on Twitter last night: “Very sad to hear the passing of tipp and thurles Sars great jimmy Doyle, often had the pleasure of his company for a hurling chat”

Minister for the Environment and Portroe native Alan Kelly tweeted: “Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Jimmy Doyle, a genius on the pitch & gentleman off it. RIP”.

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