Jack O'Connor pays tribute to John Egan

by Murt Murphy for kerrygaa.ie
After the AFL game on Sunday Kerry boss Jack O'Connor talked about his former South Kerry team-mate and neighbour from down the round in Sneem, John Egan, whose untimely death on Sunday morning has saddened Kerry and GAA fans around the country. Six times an All-Ireland winner with Mick O'Dwyer's team of the 1970s and 1980s, the Sneem corner forward was one of the most feared attackers in the game.
A retired member of a Garda Síochána, he passed away at his home in Cork early on Sunday morning, having recently undergone heart surgery and was only 59 years of age.
O'Connor remarked that he had met only two weeks ago after the Kerry /Cork League game in Cork
"I was saddened at the news this morning. It was shocking news in a way. I was only talking to him a few weeks ago up in the Hayfield Manor after the Cork game. He seemed in great form and we had a good chat for about 15 minutes so it was shocking to hear this morning that he had passed away.
"I played in a county final with him in Tralee in 1984; he was a great footballer, probably the most under-rated football of the great four-in-a-row team. He was a real gentleman; it never went to his head, what a footballer.
"His greatest strength was his strength and his balance, and he had tremendous skill as well. He was hard to knock off the ball and any corner-back that marked him would vouch for that. He was a great player" remarked an obviously moved O'Connor.

Bryan Sheehan, was not even born when John Egan was in his zenith but as a fellow South Kerry and Kerry All-Ireland medal winner, Sheehan spoke of his sadness at hearing of John's deaths
"It was very sad news to hear because he is a legend of Kerry football. When his list of achievements was called out before the minute's silence, it was then it struck me just how great a footballer he was and how much he achieved during his career. It's a sad day for Kerry football,"


Munster Chairman Sean Walsh knew John Egan well and spoke about how the Kerry legend will be remembered
"People have very, very fond memories of John. Off the field he was a total gentleman and on the field he was an extraordinary footballer. He is a true Kerry great who was much loved by players and supporters.
"He will be remembered as one of the best footballers that Kerry has ever had. What I always liked about John was that he scored vital goals at vital times over the years.
"It's very sad that he passed at such a young age and everybody in Kerry will have a fond memory of John Egan."

Speaking at the Sporting Legends Fundraiser in Tralee on Sunday night, Eoin Liston spoke fondly of his former team-mate
"He was a superb footballer - more gifted than many of us and always reliable and consistent. As a footballer, John was totally unselfish and he always played football. I often said to him on days he might have been getting roughed up by a defender - why are taking it John and he would just say, " Bomber, there is only one way to get them back and that is to do it on the scoreboard"!! That was a measure of the man- I don't think he had an enemy on or off the pitch, he was a gentleman, a sportsman who loved sport and it's so sad to realize we will not see that roguish South Kerry smile again"

Former Cork star Niall Cahalane was a neighbour of John Egan's in Cork city and spoke movingly of the family man that John was " When I moved up to Cork over twenty years ago, I found out that John Egan lived only three doors away from me. I got to know him  and we built up a long term friendship. We spoke about football and sometimes fell out over it but not for long. You could not be cross with John; he was too good a human being. I remember being away on work and maybe caught up a bit in the rat race, and when I would come home, I would find John Egan playing soccer in the back garden with my kids - they adored him. He was a wonderful person, great company but a complete rogue. We will miss John Egan in Cork. "

Another former team mate John O'Keeffe spoke glowingly of his former team mate
"There's no doubt but that John Egan was the complete footballer and a great team player. He was never selfish and the team ethic was important to him - he would always bring other players into the game, never trying to win matches on his own.
"What stood out was his application and dedication. He worked very hard and never missed training and became an outstanding forward. He was the quiet man on the team but you always got the impression that he really enjoyed it and was a natural footballer.
"More than anything there was a consistency to John's performances. He very rarely had a bad day and came up with crucial goals in numerous games when our backs were against the wall."

John Egan won All-Irelands in 1975, during the four-in-a-row sequence of 1978-1981, and in the GAA Centenary year of 1984.
He captained the Kerry team that came agonisingly close to winning an unprecedented five successive All-Irelands in the final of 1982. He retired two years later after winning his sixth All-Ireland medal. He was also awarded five All Stars in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982.
He is survived by his wife Mary, son John, who has represented Ireland at underage level in soccer, and daughter Maureen.

The words penned by Thomas Love Peacock come to mind as we remember the late and great John Egan

"He kept at true good humour's mark
the social flow of pleasure's tide:
He never made a brow look dark,
Nor caused a tear, but when he died."