Luminaries of GAA join pantheon of stars

Four of games’ finest honoured by association in Dublin headquarters ceremony

Former Kilkenny hurler Noel Skehan was among the GAA legends inducted into the Hall of Fame. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The GAA Museum Hall of Fame inducted four members yesterday at Croke Park: footballers Michael Kearins (Sligo) Mick O'Dwyer (Kerry); and hurlers Pat McGrath (Waterford) and Noel Skehan (Kilkenny).

O'Dwyer's fame as an All-Ireland winning player and manager with Kerry are well known, as are his managerial exploits with Kildare, Laois and Wicklow before his inter-county career concluded last year when he retired from Clare.

Four All-Ireland medals and eight national leagues were won in a career lasting from 1957 until 1974.

He has the greatest record of any football manager, having led Kerry to eight All-Irelands and guiding Kildare in 1998 and 2000 and Laois in 2003 to Leinster titles for the first time in 42 and 57 years respectively.

Centenary side
Kearins career with Sligo wasn't blessed with the same amount of silverware but he was selected on the first official All Stars team of 1971 and went on to be part of the county's historic provincial success in 1975. His senior career ran for 18 years between 1961 and 1978.


He was honoured in the 1984 Centenary Team as one of the best players not to have won an All-Ireland.

Waterford's Pat McGrath was one of the great hurlers in the 1970s and 1980s. and was a member of the first Waterford team to win the Munster under-21 title and reach the All-Ireland final. He hurled for 16 years with the county seniors and won seven county championships with Mount Sion.

His sons Ken, an All Star and Eoin won Munster championships with the county in the last decade.

Kilkenny goalkeeper Noel Skehan was one of the most famous hurlers in the country in a 22-year career that began as understudy to the legendary Ollie Walsh. He went on set a record of nine All-Ireland medals, including one as captain in 1972, equalled in 2012 by Henry Shefflin.

He also served as a selector with the county and in that capacity won All-Irelands in 2002 and 2003.

Free-taking controversy
Speaking at the ceremony in the GAA Museum, Skehan spoke about the modern goalkeeping controversy – the free-taking style of Cork 'keeper Anthony Nash in close-in frees, which was the subject of a proposal, ultimately withdrawn, to ban it at the recent annual congress.

According to Skehan the practice – of flipping the ball forward from the 20m line and striking much closer to goal – should be prohibited before someone is injured.

Skehan appeal
"It has to be brought to a halt and if it's not brought to a halt quickly there's going to be an injury.

“And I can tell you as soon as that injury happens all hell will break loose and all these guys who are pro the ball being thrown 10 yards ahead they’ll be gone to ground. They won’t be heard or seen.

“It’ll be a serious injury and I appeal to Liam O’Neill and the Association to do something fast on this. Under-14, under-16, minor, senior . . . we all see it at senior but we don’t see it at under-14. But it’s happening.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times