‘Man of iron’ Keohane’s medals presented to Courceys

May 25th, 2023 3:00 PM

By Tom Lyons

At presentation of Jeremiah Keohane's medals in Courcey Rovers clubhouse were, back from left, Alan Coleman, Andrew Hannon, Connie Farrell, Theresa O'Neill, Sheila Connolly Sullivan, Bernice O'Neill, John O'Neill, Margaret Crowley, Felix O'Neill and Anne McCarthy. Front, Anne Coleman, Kate Crowley and Sr Ann O'Neill.

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THE long list of achievements of Jeremiah Keohane in a Courcey Rovers jersey were remembered recently as the medals he won were presented to the club by his relatives.

Jeremiah played with Courceys from the club’s foundation in 1947 up to 1965 and the medals have been displayed with an explanatory plaque under each one. They will be mounted on the wall in the club pavilion for all to see and a precious part of the proud history of Courcey Rovers will be preserved for future generations to browse and admire.

Courceys operated in the Carbery division until 1974 before moving to Carrigdhoun and all of Jeremiah’s medals with the club were won in the south-east. They include: JAHC in 1947, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1964; JAHL 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1962 and 1964; JBFC 1951 and JBFL 1965, the last medal he won with Courceys.

Jeremiah’s first medal was won with Ballinspittle in junior B hurling championship in 1945, before Courcey Rovers was founded. Also Included in the collection is a medal for a two-mile cycle race at the Old Head, which he won in 1948, and a Munster tug-of-war medal won with Kilgobbin in 1953.

Born in Lispatrick on the Old Head in 1925, Jeremiah was a farmer who was passionate about hurling. He was a tough, feared full-back, often mentioned in match reports. In the souvenir programme for the opening of Páirc Uí Ríogáin in 1988, Jeremiah was described as ‘the man of iron…his rugged strength was a source of inspiration for his colleagues and his courage was unquestionable.’

The legendary Jeremiah Keohane.

He captained the team in 1953 when the championship and league double was won, and lined out for the Carbery senior hurling team in 1953, 1954 and 1955. After retiring in 1965, he remained involved, serving as chairperson and also as delegate to the Carbery board.

He died in 1998, having never married, and his medals were found in a drawer in his farmhouse by the present occupant, his nephew Alan Coleman.

Jeremiah’s memory was also perpetuated in 2016 when his family presented a cup to the club for a tournament to be played among underage teams in Carrigdhoun each year.

Courcey Rovers chairperson Stephen Harrington welcomed the large crowd, including members of Jeremiah Keohane’s extended family, officers and members of the club, friends and neighbours of Jeremiah and veteran players who had lined out with Jeremiah in the 1950s and 1960s. Harrington described Jeremiah as ‘a proud Courcey man who wore the jersey with pride and passion’.

Alan Coleman explained how he had come across the medals and the decision was taken to present them to the club rather than letting them lie unseen in a drawer. He thanked all the family members, especially Kate Crowley, niece, who had researched the history of the medals and the career of Jeremiah and arranged the presentation. He also thanked the club for their part in encouraging the project.

Kate Crowley, the driving force behind the presentation, had produced a very informative booklet on Jeremiah’s playing career and about the various medals.

‘Jeremiah’s career was one of blood, sweat and cheers, he left the tears to the opposition!’ she said.

‘I want to thank especially all those who helped, especially with photographs and information. Not forgetting the O’Neill and Farrell families who were very supportive. My thanks also to Andrew Hannon, who played many years with Jeremiah.

‘Much of the information came from The Southern Star, my thanks to them. You all have your memories of Jeremiah and this is a recognition of his GAA life.’

Tom Lyons spoke on behalf of the Carbery Board and The Southern Star.

‘Courceys’ departure was a great loss to Carbery hurling and I don’t think we have quite recovered from it yet,’ he stated. He said it had taken Courceys a while to settle in Carrigdhoun but now they were top of the pile in senior ranks and he congratulated them on that achievement.

‘However, if they do fall on hard times again and slide back down, remember ye’ll always be welcome back in Carbery!’

Lyons made a plea for the county executive in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and all divisional boards to set up GAA museums where the history and heritage of the association could be preserved, as was being done by the Keohanes and the Courcey Rovers.

The medals, beautifully mounted in a frame, were then presented to Stephen Harrington by Kate Crowley and Alan Coleman, to be put on display in the pavilion.

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