VALE Kelvin ‘Kel’ O’Shea
Vale Kelvin ‘Kel’ O’Shea
Born 13 July 1933, passed away, 22 January 2015
One of Australia’s greatest second row forwards, Kel O’Shea, passed away in Brisbane on Thursday night, 22 January, aged 81. Along with Norm Provan, Kel formed what was arguably Australia’s best ever second row pairing. Back in the 1950s, the duo played 11 Tests together, eight of these as second row partners and the other three with Kel as lock and Rex Mossop partnering Provan in the second row. Both Kel and Norm Provan made their Test debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 12 June, 1954 in the 37-12 defeat of Great Britain. Both men scored tries in their Test debut.
Kel first represented Queensland in 1953, from the Ayr club in Central Queensland. Still only 19, the talented second rower, played three of the four games for Queensland in the drawn series with NSW, as well as the 39-36 win over the touring American All Stars. He played 10 matches for Queensland and was still playing with Ayr when he was selected at age 20, for his first Test. He went on to play 20 Tests for Australia with his last one being at the SCG in the 40-17 loss to Great Britain on 19 July 1958.
Kel went to France with the Australian team for the very first World Cup in October-November 1954. In 1957 he partnered Provan in the second row for all three winning World Cup games plus the 20-11 victory over the Rest of the World at the SCG on 29 June. Captained by Dick Poole, this was an impressive Australian team and they won the World Cup easily, scoring 82 points to 20 in their three games. Including his 20 Tests, Kel played 29 matches for Australia, scoring nine tries, seven of these in Tests. He toured England and France with the 1956 Kangaroos, playing 14 matches, including all six Tests.
In 1956, Kel moved south to join Western Suburbs in the Sydney competition. In eight seasons with the Magpies, he played 118 first grade games, scoring 30 tries. During his time in Sydney, Kel played eight matches for NSW and three for City Firsts against NSW Country. He was a member of two Western Suburbs Grand Final teams in 1961 and 1963. St. George won all three of these Grand Finals.
He came out of retirement in 1965 to captain/coach Maitland to a 22-3 Newcastle Grand Final win over minor premiers, South Newcastle.
Kel’s achievements in Rugby League were recognised when he was selected in the Western Suburbs Team of the Century and the Australian Team of the 1950s. In 2004, Kel was named as a Men of League Honouree, in 2008 he was named as one of Australia’s Greatest 100 players and in 2009 was selected for the Queensland Sports Hall of Fame.
Kel and his wife Margaret married on 5 June 1954, just a week before his first Test. He had to leave his new bride just hours after the ceremony to travel to Sydney and prepare for his first Test. Kel and Margaret had three children, Greg, Kerrie and Julie, while they also have five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
The funeral service will be held on Thursday 29 January at 2pm at Garden Of Remembrance Mount Cotton, Brisbane.