O'Shea hangs up his boots


The former Kerry footballer Jack O'Shea took part in his last competitive game when Leixlip were defeated by Clane in the Leinster Leader Cup Final at Celbridge yesterday. Afterwards, he said he is certain to remain involved in the game, probably at managerial level, within his own club initially. He thanked everyone at the Co Kildare club for supporting him during a long career. He paid particular tribute to RTE commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh for his work as a coach to the Dublin-based Kerry players when O'Shea began to play for Kerry.

O'Shea is one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the game. He won seven All-Ireland senior medals on the Mick O'Dwyer-managed Kerry team between 1978 and 1986.

He picked up five successive All Star awards between 1980 and 1985 and played for Ireland in the International Compromise Rule Series against Australia between 1984 and 1986. He was the Irish team captain in 1984 and 1986. In 1975, he won an All-Ireland minor medal and was a member of three successive All-Ireland under-21 championship-winning teams. A native of Cahirciveen, he was born in November 1957 and originally played for the local club, St Mary's. The pressures of commuting from Leixlip, where he has a plumbing contracting business, forced him to join the Co Kildare club in 1985. At that time, the Leixlip side had several inter-county players and they reached the Kildare SFC final of 1986, loosing to Newbridge club Sarsfields. The final itself sparked off a controversy. Leixlip sought to have the game postponed because Kerry were due to play Tyrone in what was to be O'Shea's last All-Ireland success in 1986.

However the Kildare County Board turned down the request and the defeated Leixlip side boycotted the post-match meal in protest. O'Shea was under orders from Mick O'Dwyer not to play in the county final because of the risk of injury. He was named among the substitutes and came on before the game ended. He enjoyed much more success as a county player than he did with his club. Leixlip have not reached a Kildare senior final since 1986 and their last Leinster Leader Cup league success was all of 50 years ago.

He retired from inter-county football after Kerry's 1992 Munster SFC final defeat at the hands of Clare. However, his family name looks certain to live on. O'Shea's son, Kieran, has already represented Kildare at under-age level.