Derry legend Jim McKeever passes away

DERRY GAA have paid tribute to former captain, manager and chairman Jim McKeever has passed away at the age of 92.

He had a distinguished career at club and county level and was captain of the first Derry team to reach an All-Ireland final in 1958, leading to selection as the first ever Texaco Player of the Year.

His talents saw him become a mainstay in the Ulster Railway Cup team.

Jim was regarded as one of greatest exponents of the high catch and was heavily involved in coaching and the teaching of the “McKeever gospel” on football.

McKeever was a lecturer and figurehead in the development of Gaelic Football in St Mary’s University College in Belfast who he steered to Sigerson Cup glory in 1989.

Off the field, he served as chairman of Derry and was in the post at the time of their 1998 Ulster championship win and held positions in the GAA at national level.

In a tribute Derry GAA paid tribute to “gentleman Jim” who they described as a “modest yet iconic” leader.

“Jim McKeever was a natural sportsman, representing Ulster with distinction in both Gaelic football and basketball. He was the inaugural Gaelic Footballer of the Year for 1958,” the tribute outlined.

“Whether as an educator or as a midfielder he led by example. Jim actively encouraged people to use their talents and be the best they could be. Any team with Jim McKeever in it was a better team.

“Jim had a natural warmth and innate kindness which meant people gravitated towards him. He was affectionately known across Ireland as Gentleman Jim.

“When Jim spoke people listened because they appreciated he was a man of immense experience and integrity.

“Jim’s life was one of service to others. Jim realised whether in his club, community or county he was part of something bigger in the GAA.

“Jim McKeever was a once in a generation player and has left an indelible mark on the history of Derry GAA.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”

Derry GAA Chairman John Keenan also paid a tribute to McKeever’s legacy.

“Jim McKeever was an affable man and a leader. It’s an honour to walk in his footsteps,” he said.

McKeever’s club, St Trea’s Ballymaguigan, also paid tribute to one of the “most iconic names” in the GAA.

“Jim was and still is a household name throughout the length and breadth of Ireland,” a tribute outlined.

“This very famous photo (above) of Jim in the 1958 All Ireland Final is one that has been viewed by generations within the GAA fraternity. Jim captained the Derry side in the final that day.

“Gentlemen Jim as he became known had an illustrious career in his lifetime of GAA.”
“The committee and members of St Treas GAC Ballymaguigan wish to express our deepest condolences to Jim’s wife Teresa, daughters Ann, Maeve, Deirdre, sons Eamonn and Jim , brother Eddie, sisters Bella, Bridie and to the entire McKeever family at this very sad time.”

McKeever played football for Queen’s University who also paid tribute to his contribution.

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