Monday 18 December 2017

Late, great Paddy had special talent

County mourns death of former dual star

Brendan Furlong

The late Paddy Kehoe with his impressive collection of medals
The late Paddy Kehoe with his impressive collection of medals

Wexford G.A.A. is mourning the death of one of the county's greatest-ever dual players, Paddy Kehoe.

The Gusserane man ranks up there as one of the best to grace the playing field and wear the purple and gold jersey with distinction.]

He backboned Wexford to win a Leinster Senior football title in 1945, the last Slaneyside team to do so, before going on the play a crucial role in the emergence of Wexford hurling in the 1950s.

Paddy, who passed away on Friday in his 93rd year, always said football was his first love, and believed the county was most unlucky not to have an All-Ireland title in 1945.

Throughout his career, whether it was hurling or football, Paddy played with dash and enthusiasm, while his skill levels in both codes were admired through the length and breadth of the country.

Born in Drealistown on June 6, 1923, Paddy went on to become one of the most decorated sportsmen in the county for both Gusserane and Wexford. He lined out for Wexford Minor hurlers and footballers in the thirties, going on to join the army at the age of 17 years, where he remained for the following five years.

Just to demonstrate his talents while in the army he played hurling, football and rugby, but his real love was always his native Gusserane with whom he won a county Junior medal in 1944.

This fine team then went on to win three Senior titles in a row with Paddy as their captain. Having also won the title in 1954, it saw them win four Senior championships in a ten-year spell, a period when they were looked upon as the kingpins of Wexford football. He also won a county Junior hurling title in 1947 lining out for neighbouring Horeswood.

It was on the county scene that Paddy became a household name throughout the country. He played a hugely instrumental role in the emergence of Wexford hurling as they arrived on the scene in 1951, losing to Tipperary in the All-Ireland final.

Having tasted Oireachtas and National League success, he featured in another All-Ireland final in 1954 but had to wait until 1955 before the major breakthrough arrived, winning his first All-Ireland Senior hurling medal with a final victory over Galway.

At the start of the 1955 season the Wexford selectors seemed to have forgotten all about the wily Paddy Kehoe who, though nearing the veteran stage, was still one of the cleverest and sweetest players in the hurling game.

But they recalled him for the All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick, and Paddy fairly astounded the crowd, not alone with his stickwork but with his speed, as the then 33-year-old 16 st. salesman left the whole Limerick defence standing with his jet-propelled bursts. It was then on to the All-Ireland final and victory over Cork.

He was still part of the Wexford squad which retained the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 1956, but it was the Leinster final victory of that year over Kilkenny that marked the final championship appearance of that most skilful of hurlers.

Having made his first appearance for Wexford in 1940, he featured with both Junior teams in 1940 before emerging into the Senior hurling set-up in 1943 and Senior football in 1944. He went on to win a Leinster Senior football medal in 1945, before losing the All-Ireland semi-final to Cavan. He also played with Leinster in football in 1949, while he lined out in hurling for his province in 1946 and 1953.

While 1956 saw the end of his inter-county career, it was not before a Leinster Senior football final appearance in that year where they lost out to Kildare, bringing to an end a long and distinguished spell of service.

Paddy made a total of 22 Senior hurling championship appearances between 1943 and 1956, while he represented his county on no fewer than 28 occasions in the Senior football championship from 1942 to 1956.

When domiciled in the capital for some years Paddy also played with Faughs in hurling and Banba in football.

It was in June, 2012, that Paddy celebrated his 90th birthday party in Rosie's Pub in Dunmain where the special guest was Micheál O Muircheartaigh who entertained the crowd with stories of Paddy and other characters of that era.

Past and former players and officials from Wexford and other counties gathered in New Ross on Sunday morning to bid a final farewell to one of the greatest dual players to wear the purple and gold.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Wexford People

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