GAA

Tony Keady Was The Victim Of One Of The GAA's Harshest-Ever Bans

Tony Keady Was The Victim Of One Of The GAA's Harshest-Ever Bans

The GAA world is coming to terms with the tragic death of Tony Keady.

The 53-year-old Galway legend died overnight. He was admitted to University Hospital Galway on Tuesday with a suspected heart attack.

Keady was part of the Galway team that won back-to-back All-Ireland titles in 1987 and 1988. He was named Hurler of the Year after Galway's second triumph.

Despite Keady's success for Galway, he will be remembered by many for the harsh 12-month ban he received in 1989 for playing a match in America.

Could you imagine Austin Gleeson (the reigning Hurler of the Year) getting a 12-month ban for playing a game in America? That's what happened Keady almost 30-years-ago.

The following piece was originally published in 2015, when Keady spoke to Newstalk's Off the Ball about the whole affair.

Most GAA songs are written in the lead-up to All-Ireland finals or in honour of All-Ireland final victories and have a distinctly folky, country-ish feel. Many are also written and performed by groupings formed specifically for the purposes of singing an All-Ireland song.

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However, one of hurling's most controversial sagas has inspired its own song, and it is a very different vibe to most GAA songs.

We have already said that before every future Galway-Tipperary match, instead of striking up Amhrain Na bhFiann, the band should perform a rendition of 'The Tony Keady Affair' by So Cow.

Yesterday evening, Off the Ball interviewed Keady and then Galway manager Cyril Farrell about the evil year of 1989. While Cyril was conciliatory mood and at pains to insist that Tipperary, whom Galway had beaten in the 1987 All-Ireland semi-final, 1988 All-Ireland final and the 1989 League final, may have gotten the better of Galway in the '89 semi-final, even if Keady was in place, his former centre back admits he's 'still bitter with the people who were involved'.

However, in the course of the interview, Keady revealed possibly the most startling detail of the whole saga.

(For those who don't know, Keady was suspended for playing illegally for Laois in the United States early on that summer. Keady was the only high profile player ever suspended under this ridiculous law, even though the practice was rampant in the 70s and 80s. Tipperary's Paul Delaney had committed exactly the same 'crime' that summer and yet played the semi-final. The Tipp management, concerned that issues would arise following the Keady saga, dropped him for the final against Antrim.)

Keady has long joked that he was initially suspended for nine months and after appealing, this was raised to twelve months. Either way, he was still banned for the semi-final. His cause was defeated by 20 votes to 18. Incredibly, it turned out that the Tipperary delegates, who had most to gain from his suspension, voted for his re-instatement.

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So, who were some of the counties that voted against him?

Outrageously, Keady said last night that four Connacht county boards voted against him, none of which played hurling at an elite level. Farrell indicated that the breathtaking vindictiveness displayed by Galway's neighbours that night was attributable to anti-hurling sentiment within the province.

Keady, the 1988 hurler of the year, was a confident player. Farrell recalled that he played every game in Croke Park while powered by the belief that 68,000 of the 70,000 crowd were coming just to see him.

He also spoke about the 1988 All-Ireland final, for which he won the Man of the Match award. He was awarded the customary bit of Waterford Crystal, as presented by Ger Canning.

Except, he didn't pick it up off Ger Canning. Cyril Farrell had to do that. For Keady was still drinking with Brendan Lynskey and a few others in 'The Hut' in Phibsboro.

https://soundcloud.com/offtheball/the-tony-keady-affair

SEE ALSO: Galway Hurling Legend Tony Keady Passes Away Aged 53

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