'His legacy redefined aspirations for players and teams for decades to come'
At times during the 70s there were tensions over how he allowed Vincent’s players to train with the club while the rest of us had to go to county sessions. UCD were on to me to ask why I didn’t do the same but I said that I wasn’t going to do that, simply as a reaction to what was happening in Vincent’s.
I felt that I owed Dublin the loyalty that had been shown to me when Kevin came back for me after my illness. Otherwise I could easily have ended up concentrating on medicine and maybe playing a little club football.
In recent times I knew him as a patient and remember dropping over to the hospital to say hello and ending up talking for a couple of hours, mostly reminiscence, and even though he was quite ill he was very clear about everything.
He still followed football closely. A few months back I visited him and he said at one stage: “We’ll talk about that again when the All-Ireland’s won.” That was before the Mayo semi-final and he was anticipating Dublin defending the title.
I remember walking down the corridor and thinking if that’s what he believes, it’s good enough for me!
For a number of years I was involved in setting up both a trauma hospital and sports clinic in Saudi Arabia. Kevin used to travel out on industrial relations and HR business for the ESB projects there. He contacted me about securing access to the best hospitals for ex-pat staff out there, which we were able to do.
One night in the Hyatt in Riyadh I spent four or five hours with him drinking Arabic coffee and sweet tea – there was nothing else! He talked about the 1980s team, which was emerging then. Kevin was able to talk for hours about football and tactics – and none of it padding.
We ended up the only ones left in the lobby, talking away. It crossed my mind that anyone looking on and wondering, “what are that pair up to?” would never have guessed.
But Kevin would talk football anywhere. I’ll miss him.