Monday 11 December 2017

Lansdowne tribute to legend Moss Keane

Mick Quinn of Lansdowne on his old friend and club stalwart, the late Moss Keane

Mossy was just so lovable. Everybody adored him. He was one of those iconic characters that people were drawn to in a room.

I first met him when he came to Dublin from UCC in 1972. It took off from there. He had those deep, rolling eyes and that distinctive Kerry accent which, of course, he never lost along the way.

He was a very shy man. But, when he got into the company of people he knew he was the life and soul of the party. The pints would be flying and the banter would be rapid.

Mossy was one of these big, imposing men, totally unassuming, self-deprecating. He was always telling stories against himself, describing how he would be more likely 'to push in the lineout and jump in the scrum'. When he got out on the pitch he took the game very seriously. He was an extremely hard trainer. He had a super-human engine. He could keep going forever. He had that natural endurance. There was one particular game where he played for the touring side, the Welsh Crawshays, against the French Barbarians somewhere in the south of France.

Mossy thought it was going to be a lovely little weekend -- wine flowing in the sun -- but he didn't realise that it would be just after Wales played France in Paris, where there had been blood spilled and eye-gouging.

Well, half of each set of forwards were playing again. The Welsh decided they were going to sort out the French. Mayhem erupted early in the game. As the Welsh and French flew into each other, fists flying, Mossy stood back and looked on.

The Crawshays captain came over to him at the end of the scrap: "Well Mossy, why didn't you get stuck in like all the boys?" He replied: "Listen pal, I don't mind dying for Ireland, but there isn't a chance in hell I'll die for Wales."

Mossy is such a huge loss to Irish rugby. He came to rugby after he was 18. Within a few years he was on the Irish team. His bull strength was his greatest weapon. His distribution wasn't the greatest. He wouldn't be giving perfect passes or anything like that. It was the destruction he would cause, knocking guys out of his way. He would get very excitable when he got the ball. Mossy was religious, a mass-every-Sunday man. Faith was a big thing for him. I was with him the other night. I literally dropped everything to see him. I saw him at seven o'clock on Monday evening. He was gone by four o'clock Tuesday morning.

He was totally with it. His mind was still there right to the end, even though he was a shell of the man I knew. He still had enough energy to let me know he wasn't best pleased about the Leinster-Munster match. "Ye feckers, ye beat us again," he said. And a few hours later he was gone.

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