December 22, 2004
The Late Brendan Keane
The death occurred of Kilmaine native, Brendan Keane, an All-Ireland winner with Mayo back in 1953. Below is the eulogy delivered by Fr Gerry French at the funeral mass in Terenure.
"My name is Gerry French and my roots are in the same McDonagh clan as Brendan Keane - from Cruck, Balla, Co. Mayo. I first met him when I was given a treat to be brought to Kilmaine Show. This event was a landmark in the West of Ireland - like Reek Sunday, the Galway Races, the Connacht Final and Ballinasloe Fair.
That day was towards the end of the war and we parked out pony and trap at the livery stable, we met the whole Keane family.
That Kilmaine event survived the two wars but didn't survive modernity. It was one of the few institutions that Brendan was connected with that didn't continued to flourish.
In Ballinrobe C.B.S. he emerged as a brilliant student and a very effective footballer, playing in one of the great competitive Flanagan Cup competitions in 52-53. The Ballinrobe team had their stars in Joe "Brocky" Jennings. Tom Treacy, Joe Lowry and the recently departed Noel Mongan. Brendan was their full back and captain. St Colman's had Veldon, Carney, John Noone and Creighton; Ballinafad had its stars in Paddy McManamon and Mick Mullen; Castlebar had the two Macs - McDonnell and McTigue, Kennedy and the three Stewarts.
In a play-off Final, the 'Robe beat the 'Bar in the old St Colman's pitch on Patrick's Day 1953. Dr Mooney of St Jarlath's and Fr Waldron of St Colman's both agreed 40 years afterwards that it was one of the best games that they had ever seen. No wonder that Mayo later that year won the Minor All Ireland and Connacht won the Colleges All Ireland a month later. Both were captained by Sean Freyne.
Neighbour Joe Jennings and Eamon Walsh of Charlestown organised a most enjoyable reunion last year. Two of the great Mayo team of that period, Eamon Mongey and Padraig Carney, were their special guests.
With the coming of Brendan, Kilmaine at long last made the South Mayo breakthrough in that fiercely contested 1954 Championship. Brendan for the later stages of the county championship, had gone to St Pat's training school and failed to get out for the game which they lost to Swinford. Paddy Curran, his great mentor, was to Brendan like a benign Oriental Uncle who lamented with his veteran players Molloy, Surkan and Mick Conwell, "that we'd have won if young Keane were here".
In Drumconfa he teamed up with Tom Long, Mattie McDonagh and Fintan Walsh the Laois star, and they won the Dublin championship, interrupting the brilliant St Vincent's record wins of a dozen in a row in 1956. After his displays against Heffernan it was no surprise that he graduated onto the Mayo team, separating the long reigns of the Prendergast brothers, Paddy and Ray, as Mayo's full backs from 1957 to 1963. He was a member of the Mayo back line about which John D.Hickey coined the now popular phrase; "the meanest defence" in the game. It was Mick Corkery, Willie Casey, Brendan Keane, Gabriel Kelly, Frank Fleming, John McAndrew, and Eddie Moriarty.
Brendan moved to Clanna Gael and then they became the great rivals of St Vincent's in Dublin. He and his colleague Sean Hunt joined Paddy Holden, Chris Keane, Kevin Coffey and Mickey Whelan in becoming worthy opponents of Heffo, Freney and the Foley's.
He was an unorthodox but effective player and his 'barr na broige kick was famous in our school days. Our mentor used say "Never mind Brendan Keane, his style works for him".
That persistence and effective style worked for him in his studies and academic life later too and while pursuing a most effective teaching life he veered into many other subjects and took qualifications in them; including being called to the bar, where he never practiced.
Like Newman, he enjoyed learing for its own sake. He was much sought after as an interior decorator and was a superb DIY performer. He wrote papers on many of those subjects and became Editor-in-Chief of the Kilmaine GAA History. He was rightly proud of it, and like a gem will become more treasured with age.
The 'Global Awareness' people say to be globally aware one needs to be truly local. That was Brendan Níbheidh a leitheid ann aris. I hope Carmel and his sons and daughter will meet some of his sporting academic and craftmen colleagues around the world like Gortjordan's Martin Coleman in his hotel in Sydney or Padraig Carney in his clinic in Southern California and enjoy their memories of Brendan.
Brendan Keane (1935 -2004)
Born Ballymartin, Kilmaine, Father; Paddy Keane. Mother; Brigid Dowd, Rathduff, Balla. Brother; Gerard Keane; Ballymartin, Kilmaine. Sisters Maura, (Sr Grace London) Sr Josephine. (Uganda) Phyllis. (Belfast) Wife; Carmel, Sons, Michael, Shane, Colm and daughter Linda.
Mayo Senior full-back for the League in 1956 and championship from 1957 to 1962. Football Honours Flanagan Cup 1953, All Ireland Minor title 1953, Connacht Colleges All Ireland 1953, South Mayo title 1954, (Kilmaine) Dublin Senior Football title (Erin's Hope) where his colleagues were Mattie McDonagh (Galway), Tom Long (Kerry) Fintan Walsh (Laois), Padraic Gavin (Swinford), Bertie Towey (Foxford), Dublin Senior League medal (Clanna Gael) where his colleagues were; Paddy Holden (Dublin) Mickey Whelan (Dublin), Kevin Coffey (Kerry) Sean Hunt (Charlestown and Mayo).
Brendan took part in the famous South Mayo Final of 1954 against Carramore in which neither team failed to raise a flag of any colour. The late Mayo great Henry Dixon played in that game and hit a post from play. Kilmaine won the replay but were defeated by Swinford who were crowned champions that year. Because of the restriction at that time Brendan wasn't allowed out for the Swinford game.
For the record the Kilmaine team that lined out was Mark Conwell, Paddy O'Neill, Mattie McNicholas, Christy Durkan, Joe Kilgallon, Eugene McNicholas, Martin Colemen, Brendan Keane, Paddy Sheridan, John Maye, Mick Walsh (An uncle of present Kilmaine selector and former Minor All winner Michael John Mullen), Vincent Hession, Johnny Flannery, John McGrath, Miley Molloy; Subs used ; Mick Heverin, Paddy Joyce, Brendan played in the National League Final of 1958 in which Dublin narrowly defeated Mayo.
The Mayo Team lined out as follows; Mick Corkery, Willie Casey, Brendan Keane, Gabriel Kelly, Frank Fleming, John McAndrew, Eddie Moriarty, Bill Shannon, John Nallen, Jim Fleming, Frank O'Leary, Shane Gallagher, Tommy Treacy, Joe O'Connell, Jimmy Curran. Subs: Joe Donoghue, Brendan McLoughlin and Colm O'Toole.
Courtesy of The Mayo News
December 22nd 2004
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