Michael D Higgins heads tributes to hurling champion Tony Keady who dies at 53
President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to hurling great Tony Keady who has died aged 53.
The two-time All-Ireland winner, originally from Killimordaly, Co Galway, was regarded as one of the finest hurlers of his generation.
He took ill earlier this week and died in hospital in Galway on Wednesday.
President Higgins and his wife Sabina offered condolences to Mr Keady's wife Margaret and their four children, Shannon, Anthony, Jake and Harry and friends and colleagues.
"It is with deep sadness I have learned of the death of legendary Galway hurler, Tony Keady," Mr Higgins said.
"A two-time All Ireland winner, Tony was one of only three Galway hurlers to be awarded the title of Hurler of the Year, which he won in 1988.
"He will be missed by all his colleagues in Killimordaly GAA Club, and by the hurling and GAA community at large.
"Sabina and I wish to express our deepest sympathy to his wife Margaret, his four children, his friends and colleagues."
Mr Keady had watched Galway hurlers book a place in this year's All-Ireland final by beating Tipperary last Sunday before he took ill.
He had worked as a caretaker in Calansanctius College in Oranmore, where he lived in the Frenchfort area near the town.
He played with Killimordaly in the 1980s and later was involved in Oranmore-Maree GAA club.
Mr Keady was a member of the last Galway hurling team to lift the Liam McCarthy and was an All Star and a hurler of the year.
The GAA described Mr Keady as "a brilliant hurler and an absolute gentleman".
Sean O hEidhin, secretary of the Galway County Board, said: "Galway GAA is gripped in a cloud of deep sadness and sorrow today with the news of the sudden and untimely passing of the great Tony Keady."
Cyril Farrell, former manager of the successful Galway hurling team, told RTE Radio Mr Keady was a great family man and a brilliant hurler who rose to the occasion.
"He believed if there was 70,000 in Croke Park they came to see him play. He said this is what we were training for," he said.
"He had a free spirit.
"This character was bigger than life and so fit and strong and the last person that you looked at that you could think this could happen to, but that's life."