Moss Keane in Irish Rugby

Moss Keane RIP
5 October 2010
9:39 am
5 October 2010, 9:39 am
By Editor
The Irish Rugby Football Union would like to express their sympathies on behalf of Irish rugby to the family of Moss Keane who has sadly passed away. The Munster, Ireland and Lions legend was a great character and influence, both on and off the pitch, and a stalwart of the second row who put his heart and soul into whatever jersey he wore.

Munster, Ireland and Lions legend Moss Keane, pictured here playing for Ireland in 1983, has sadly passed away
Formerly of Currow, Castleisland, County Kerry. Died peacefully at his residence. Reposing at Mahers’ Chapel of Rest, Portarlington on Wednesday evening from 4.30pm with removal at 6.45pm, arriving at St. Michael’s Church, Portarlington at 7.30pm. Requiem Mass on Thursday at 1pm. Funeral afterwards to St. Michael’s Cemetery, Portarlington.
Maurice Ignatius Keane, or ‘Moss’ as he came to be known, was born in Currow, County Kerry on July 27, 1948.
Keane was a multi-talented sportsman. Before turning his attention to rugby, he played Gaelic football for his county at Under-21 level and won three Sigerson Cup titles with UCC.
He took to rugby with vigour, revelling in the physicality of the game. After playing for the UCC junior rugby team as ‘Moss Fenton’, during the GAA’s ban on foreign games, he was thrown in at the deep end for Munster – featuring against New Zealand at Musgrave Park in January 1973 – and soon found his feet.
He became a lock forward of high regard, with his talent and skills recognised regularly by Lansdowne, Munster and Ireland.
On January 19, 1974, Moss made his senior debut for Ireland against France at Parc des Princes. He sustained a head wound during the game, leaving him covered in blood.
In a typical show of wit and humour, he later said: “I thought it would be handy if someone had a bucket so we could make a few black puddings!”
He quickly became a cornerstone of the Irish pack, winning the Five Nations Championship in his debut season of 1974. Three years later, he toured New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions, making one Test appearance and playing in 12 tour matches in all.
One of his proudest rugby-playing moments came at Thomond Park on October 31, 1978, as a member of the famous Munster team that defeated the All Blacks 12-0.
Recalling that game, Moss quipped: “To be honest I got a bit of pleasure out of seen their feckin’ agony. Andy Haden was crying afterwards and I went up to him and said, ‘we’re used to this losing, Andy, you’re not.’ Sure we could write a feckin’ thesis on it.”
Keane’s international career continued to go from strength to strength, and he scored his one and only Test try in a 22-15 home victory over Scotland in February 1980.
Of course, Moss was a key figure for Ireland in their famous Triple Crown-winning campaign of 1982, ever-present in a pack laden with quality…Orr, Fitzgerald, McLoughlin, Lenihan, Keane, Slattery, Duggan and O’Driscoll.
With a nod to Keane’s inspirational play during a game, renowned commentator Bill McLaren remarked: “Maurice Ignatius Keane – 18-and-a-half stone of prime Irish beef!”
He went on to become only the third Irish forward to win 50 international caps, after Willie John McBride and Fergus Slattery, when he played against England in February 1984. His 51st and final cap came a few weeks later, against Scotland at Lansdowne Road.
Commenting on the news of Moss’ passing, IRFU President Caleb Powell said: “Quite simply Irish rugby has lost one of its most genuine characters and legends of the game.
“Moss had ability on the field that no one could doubt from his record at club, provincial and international level.
“Lansdowne, Munster, Ireland and the British & Irish Lions all benefited from his presence and ensured that his reputation will live long in the memories of not only Irish rugby, but world rugby.”
He added: “My own memories of Moss were his great belief in the ethos of the game which was evident in how he related to players from all levels in our club Lansdowne.
“It did not matter whether you were an Ireland international or playing for the third Bs, he always had time for everybody in the club and he will be sorely missed.”
The Committee and staff of the Irish Rugby Football Union extend their condolences to Moss’ wife Anne, his two daughters, Sarah and Anne Marie, his granddaughter Ellie, and his extended family and friends.
May he rest in peace.