Joe O'Keeffe finally got his All-Ireland minor football medal 60 years on

Kiskeam native was a member of the 1960 All-Ireland winning squad who beat Mayo
Joe O'Keeffe finally got his All-Ireland minor football medal 60 years on

Team member Joe O'Keeffe is presented with his medal by Cork County Board chairman Marc Sheehan. Sadly weeks after the dinner Joe passed away suddenly. Picture: David Keane

THE Cork minor footballers of 1960 celebrated the 60th anniversary of their All-Ireland victory over Mayo at a reunion at the Rochestown Park Hotel.

The Rebels won the title for the very first time that year.

A very enjoyable evening was had by all and it was attended by 17 of the players, and guests Marc Sheehan, chairman of the county board, and Kevin O’Donovan, runaí and CEO, county board.

Sadly three of the starting 15 had passed away in recent years, Denis Philpott, Mick Archer both St Finbarr’s, and Flor Hayes, Clonakilty.

For Joe O’Keeffe, who played with Kiskeam, it was a particularly memorable occasion as he was presented with his winning All-Ireland medal, 60 years after the victory. True fact but there was a logical explanation for it.

Back in those days, Croke Park presented only 20 medals to the winning county. Cork’s panel consisted of 20 players. Under the rules, those players who played in the final, including any subs, were entitled to a medal.

If no subs were introduced, the medals went to the starting 15 for the semi-final and any sub who was called on. Cork used no subs in both the semi-final and final, but there was a change from the semi-final to the final in the team.

Myles Lyne (Castletownbere) was full-back in the semi-final but, Joe O’Keeffe was not among the official five subs. Myles was studying for the priesthood at the time and was not allowed out of the seminary to play in the final. Joe was called in to make up the five official subs.

Cork duly won the game and the 20 medals were presented to the starting 15. No subs were used so the remaining five medals went to those who were involved for the semi-final. Myles got his medal as he had played in the penultimate round¸ while Joe missed out.

 Team members Vincent Cronin and Frank Cogan. Picture: David Keane
Team members Vincent Cronin and Frank Cogan. Picture: David Keane

Following discussions among the organisers of the 60th-anniversary function, Tom Monaghan and Brendan Larkin, it was decided to approach the County Board to see if anything could be done to get a medal for Joe.

The board readily agreed that an All-Ireland medal should be presented to him. This was duly done by the chairman Marc Sheehan at the recent 60th anniversary reunion.

Joe was chuffed at the presentation. It certainly caught him unawares. Indeed his teammates expressed their delight at the generosity of the County Board.

Tragically Joe didn’t get much time to enjoy his All-Ireland medal. Just weeks after the reunion, he passed away suddenly at home in Galway. When news of his passing came through, it came as a massive shock to those who knew him, particularly his teammates.

Speaking on behalf of his teammates and as one of the organisers on the reunion, Brendan Larkin said: “We remember Joe as a shrewd businessman, a gentle soul, and a very talented footballer.”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh an anam.

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