Now that we are reaching the end of saturation coverage of the World Cup and watching some of the best soccer players in the world, you might wonder where it all began for some of them, how they got themselves on to the world stage, and how much they owe to the unsung people without whom they would never have succeeded, the referees whose dedication to the game make all of those matches possible.
One such referee in Galway is John Keady from Bohermore who has given a lifetime to the game. As a youth, he played soccer with the Galway Hibernians team who won the under-15 Galway League in 1955. They beat Boys Club 3 – 2 in the final, Pete Reilly scoring all the goals for them. Our first photograph shows that team, they are, front row, left to right: Eddie Conneely, John Keady, Brian Delargy, Bernie Cooley, Ted Fitzpatrick, Michael Keady. Back row; Mick Killeen, Peter O’Connor, Brod King, PJ Connolly, and Mixie Glynn.
John also played for Oak Dale, a club which was founded by Jimmy Butler who had a business on Prospect Hill. The club was successful for a time, but unfortunately, did not last very long. When John was 17, he developed meningitis and was unable to play for over a year. Some people felt he would never play the game again but they did not know just how determined this young man was. Not only did he play again, but he did so for many years and played rugby for Corinthians as well.
He captained the Bohemians team that won the Joe Ryan trophy in 1963/64, a team that won a number of trophies that season as you can see in our second photograph which shows, back row, from the left: Jim Murphy, chairman, Maurice Begley, Paddy Griffin, Dermot Dooley, Michael Keady, Eddie Conneely, Michael John Burke, Mickey Beatty, secretary, and Seán Langan, treasurer. In front are Noel Burke, John Keady, captain, Jimmy Joyce, Mickey Joyce, and Marty Beatty.
When John finished playing, he wanted to give something back to the game he loved so much, so he took up refereeing. His many years of playing were an asset to him here and he developed a reputation as a dedicated, strong-willed character who was always fair, no matter who was playing. He refereed a huge number of matches including Connacht Cup finals, league finals and other important fixtures. In 1981, he took charge of a youth international match between Ireland and Wales in Terryland Park.
He seemed to be spending every weekend on a different pitch which involved a lot of travel and was very time-consuming. As his family were growing up, he felt the need to spend more time with them, and so he decided to retire from the game. He was so highly respected that the Galway Referee Society never forgot his commitment to the game and so, this year, as a mark of appreciation, they decided to appoint him as honorary president, an accolade richly deserved.
All of the above tribute is lifted from an article in the latest issue of St Patrick’s Parish Magazine (volume 50 ) which has just been published. It has a number of local history articles, is peopled by some characters, has a lot of nostalgia, parish information and is profusely illustrated. William Henry is the editor which means the standard is high. It is on sale for €10 in many locations in town and is highly recommended. A collection of back issues of this journal makes up a valuable and important collection of parish legends, folklore and history. It would be wonderful if some other parishes took up the challenge and produced such magazines.