Tributes paid to ‘Mr. Women’s Football’, Frank ‘Junior’ Keane

The late Frank 'Junior' Keane, former Republic of Ireland women's manager.

WARM tributes have been paid to former Republic of Ireland Women’s Football Manager Frank ‘Junior’ Keane (Wembley Rovers), who passed away following an illness at the weekend.

He was there in the infancy of the sport in Limerick, managing Limerick to win both the inaugural League of Ireland title and FAI Cup in the mid-1970s, around the time he also managed the Republic of Ireland.

“Junior was Mr. Ladies Football in Limerick,” recalled one of his pioneering players Pauline Maher. ”He was there from the very beginning.  He first founded Ballynanty Ladies in the late 1960s, followed by the Limerick Ladies FC in the early ‘70s.  He also assisted in the formation of the Ladies Football Association of Ireland, the Ladies League of Ireland and the Limerick Women’s League during the ‘70s.”

“Junior was loved and respected by all associated with Women’s Football in Limerick and the entire country.  He was a trailblazer whose achievements culminated in the Irish Women’s team qualification for the World Cup this year. He is irreplaceable.”

Ahead of a recent Civic Reception for that Limerick team of 50 years ago, Mayor Gerald Mitchell visited Mr. Keane and met “a wonderful positive and resilient human being with a thirst to win which he passed onto the players.”

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He added: “It was a nostalgic morning with Junior, his family, friends and some players.  The achievement by the Limerick 1973-1975 Trailblazers ensure that Limerick will forever be associated with the formation and success of women’s football in Ireland. Junior was part of that breakthrough.”

Survived immediately by his wife Mary and children Niall and Bernadette, Mr. Keane will repose at Griffin’s Funeral Home, John’s Gate on Wednesday (3-4.30pm). His remains will arrive at St. Mary’s Church, Athlunkard Street the following morning for 11am Requiem  Mass. Funeral afterwards to Shannon Crematorium.

On a personal level, for a good dozen years this scribe, Junior and others, many of whom are sadly also no longer around, of Dads Army Golf Society were all-round yearly Tuesday morning visitors to Adare Manor GC, and there was also the odd overseas trip.

Those were happy times.

‘Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h’anam dílis.’