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Eddie Kehers Tribute to Ned Power

Eddie Keher

The greatest era for Waterford hurling was between 1957 and 1963. The county was blessed with an abundance of top class stars, who played the game with skill and courage, but also added a new dimension to the most beautiful game, that was to be a template for other successful counties to copy and try to emulate in subsequent years.

I have often said that the wing play of that Waterford team, feeding off a sturdy central spine would have been unbeatable had that group of players been born a decade later to have played under the ‘new’ rules of the game introduced in the early 70’s.

As is well documented, that group of players played in three All-Irelands during that period, having to overcome the dominance of Tipperary in Munster to do so. On each occasion they opposed Kilkenny in the finals, losing two and winning in a replay in 1959.

It was during the replay that I first encountered the man from Tallow. I had played in the minor final before the drawn match, and was drafted into the senior panel for the replay. I was introduced as a sub for the injured Johnny McGovern after about 15 minutes and it was a daunting experience for me, still under 18 to play my first major game in front of a 70,000+ crowd. Shortly after my introduction, I attempted to follow a ball going towards the end line outside Ned’s post to be met by the custodian, who skilfully ‘policed’ the ball wide. While he wished me luck as a young ‘whippersnapper’, I was left in no doubt that he did not wish to see me in the vicinity of his ‘square’ for the rest of the game!!

My next encounter with Ned was when I was invited to take part in one of the early Coaching Courses in Gormanstown College where Ned was one of the Coaches. The Coaching skills and methods created by Fr. Tommy Maher, Donie Nealon, Des Ferguson, Ned Power and others at that time left in a legacy to the GAA and to hurling that has never been fully recognised or honoured. Thousands of teams and players as well as the game of hurling have benefited and continue to benefit from the wonderful work these men did over 40 years ago.

I found Ned to be a warm, witty and friendly person with an unquenchable passion for the game. His first love was hurling and his second was Waterford hurling. We became dear friends then and our friendship continued right up to his sad loss to us all in 2007. I was delighted and honoured to be present at a tribute paid to him by Tallow GAA Club in a ‘This is your Life’ format about 1990.

I was also deeply honoured by the tribute that Ned paid to me in TG4’s ‘Laochra Gael’ series some few years ago.

I am particularly pleased that his beloved Tallow GAA Club have seen fit to honour him by naming the local grounds ‘Pairc Eamonn de Paor’ and having a very special opening of the Park to honour his memory. The Club and the hurling world in general owe Ned a deep debt of gratitude for the hours he gave to developing, coaching and imparting the skills of the game to so many young people, all of whom subsequently benefited in their personal development and at various levels of hurling achievement.  

Ned bore his illness bravely, I was glad to have called to see him at his home in Tallow last August and to assure him that we all were indebted to him for the massive contribution that he had made to society in general, the generations of young people in Tallow and to the hurling world.

Ned, we are all proud of you.

Eddie Keher