Legendary Kerry footballer Pat Spillane enters Texaco Hall of Fame
Legendary Kerry footballer, television broadcaster and Gaelic games pundit Pat Spillane has been chosen as recipient of the 2011 Texaco Hall of Fame award. A quarter of a century ago, on the night of the Texaco Sportstars banquet in the Burlington Hotel, Pat Spillane collected the Texaco Sportstar for Gaelic Football for the second time, having been honoured previously in 1978.
For a generation of young fans this son of Templenoe in County Kerry is the familiar, passionate face of Gaelic Games in our living rooms on Sunday afternoons. Unlike their elders, they will not be aware that he first played football for Kerry in a league match against Galway in 1974, or that his final inter-county game was against Down in the All Ireland semi-final in 1991.
For eighteen seasons Pat Spillane was at the cutting edge. His career was interrupted by a snapped anterior cruciate ligament which eventually forced him to go to London for an operation in October of 1982, depriving him of football in 1983. But he was the first Gaelic footballer to return to the game from such a setback, he having been operated on by surgeon David Dandy, the man who subsequently performed similar procedures on footballers Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne.
During a career that would put many a professional sportsman to shame for its exceptionally high standard and longevity, he won eight All Ireland medals at senior level, 12 in the Munster Championship, four in the National League, four in the Railway Cup and an All Ireland Club medal. He was a member of the Kingdom’s four-in-a-row team (1978 to 1981) and the three-in-a-row side (1984 to 1986). On nine occasions he was selected for the All Stars, played four matches in the International Rules Series and was deemed worthy of a place in the Football Team of the Century and the Team of the Millennium. And tucked away in the residences of Pat - and his brothers, Mick and Tom - are 17 senior All Ireland winners’ medals – a record that is unlikely to be broken in the foreseeable future.
Like many footballers in the county, genetics would have given the brothers a head start. His father, Tom, played for the county while his mother Maura was a Lyne – a member of the Killarney family of outstanding exponents that included Jackie, who was later to manage the Kerry team, and Canon Michael, captain of the side that lost the Polo Grounds final in New York in 1947.