The Forgotten man from the Historic Polo Grounds Final - The Late Sean Keane

April 1st, 2008
by The Kerryman

Sean Keane, Florida, USA and formerly of Strand Street, Tralee, who died on Monday, March 24, was a member of the Kerry team panel who contested the famous All- Ireland final of 1947 in the Polo Grounds, New York. It was the only All- Ireland senior football final played outside of Ireland and for Sean to be involved was historic in itself.

Kerry were captained by Denny Lyne, while Cavan had John Joe O'Reilly at the helm. Incidentally Cavan won the game on the score 2- 11 to 2- 7. Although Sean never played in the famous game, to be part of the occasion was something of which he was extremely proud. He remained in New York following the game and threw in his lot with the Gaelic footballers of the Big Apple. The New York team went on to contest the National League Final of 1949 in Croke Park versus Cavan, which New York won. Sean was a member of that panel also.

Returning to Ireland, Sean stayed at home for a number of years, before the travel bug set in again. He was once more on his way to the USA where he settled and spent the rest of his life.
Growing up in Strand Road, Sean obviously displayed football talent at a young age. Sean was born in 1925, one of nine children to John and Madge Keane (nee Fitzgibbon).

He was a member of the Strand Road team which won the Tralee District League in 1949. The medal presentation took place in Sean's parents house, as the Kerins O'Rahillys club house was not built at the time. Club president, Tom Kerins (father of Charlie Kerins) made the medal presentation and said that it was sad to see Sean emigrating to the States.

Sean's father was foreman printer with The Kerryman at the premises in Rock Street and Russell Street. His father's untimely death in 1940 meant Sean had to leave school and look for employment.
He worked in the Labour Exchange and as a Rate Collector prior to emigration. Settling in Albany, New York, in the early 50's, Sean met and married Sheila O' Leary, second generation Irish/ American. They had a family of seven sons and one daughter- Sean Og, Danny, Denis, David, Bernard, Terry, Matt and Kate.

Sean worked as a maintenance man in Tobin Packing, Albany, NY, prior to the family moving to St. Petersburg, Florida. There he worked at Swanson Chrysler, Plymouth until his retirement in 1990. He was a life member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for over 50 years.
Sean liked when family members came to visit him in Florida and kept up with the news of Strand Road and Tralee on a weekly basis. His passing severs a link with the Blues and Kerry football and a part of a GAA history.

Sean was laid to rest in Florida on Saturday, March 29, 2008.
He was pre-deceased by his brothers David, Denis, Leo, and Bernard and sister Joan.

Sean is deeply missed by his loving wife Sheila, sons and daughter, brother Patrick (Albany, NY), sisters Mabel and Irene (Tralee), nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.
Solas na bhFlaitheas da hanam uasal.

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