Keohane, Joseph Nicholas (‘Joe’) (1918–88), Gaelic footballer, army officer, and republican, was born 18 August 1918 in Boherbee, Co. Kerry, son of John Keohane, sergeant in the Munster Fusiliers, and Babs Keohane (née Doocey). Educated at Tralee CBS, on leaving school he joined the civil service in the Department of Lands. His successful Gaelic football career began in the 1930s, when he represented Tralee CBS, Munster Colleges, and Kerry, playing on the Kerry minor team that lost the 1936 All-Ireland final to Louth. In 1937 he made his senior Kerry debut and played for them in the victory over Cavan in that year's All-Ireland final replay. He won four more All Irelands with Kerry (1939–41, 1946), and also played in two unsuccessful finals (1940, 1947), the latter played in the Polo Grounds, New York. He did not play for Kerry in the 1938 championship, due to a dispute. Other honours included two Railway Cups (1941, 1948); ten Munster senior championships (1937–42, 1944, 1946–8); two Kerry county championships with John Mitchel's, Tralee (1937, 1947); two Dublin county championships with Geraldines; and five army championships. Considered one of the finest full-backs ever to play Gaelic football, he was chosen in that position on the GAA's team of the millennium in 1999, making him one of the first inductees to the GAA hall of fame. A very big man, he was noted for his high fielding, long relieving kicks out of defence, and physical presence around the goalmouth. Having played football in the ‘catch and kick’ era, he preferred this style and did not like some of the newer styles introduced in the 1970s and 1980s, in particular the proliferation of the short hand-passing game. A selector for the Kerry senior team from 1969 to 1974 and from 1978 till his death, during some of the county's most successful years under manager Mick O'Dwyer, he was an unsuccessful candidate for chairmanship of the Kerry GAA county board in the late 1970s.
In 1941 he resigned from the civil service to join the Irish army during the emergency. Having attained the rank of captain, he retired voluntarily from the army in 1960 and worked as a manager in the Dingle Fisherman's Co-op. He continued to hold his commission as a reserve, and was called up for service again in 1969, soon after the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland. Court-martialled in 1972 on charges of fraudulently misapplying ammunition, he was defended by Seán MacBride (qv), who argued that it was common in the army to accumulate ‘buckshee’ ammunition for additional practice for shooting teams. Found guilty on nine of thirteen charges, he was fined £25 and severely reprimanded. The leniency of the sentence may have been influenced by character references provided by Tom Barry (qv) and Kevin Boland (qv). Retiring from the army later in 1972, he became active in republican politics, standing unsuccessfully as an Aontacht Éireann candidate in Kerry North at the 1973 general election. Earlier, in 1969, he had failed to win a Fianna Fáil nomination for that year's general election. In 1981 he campaigned on behalf of the H-Block hunger striker Bobby Sands (qv) in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election. He died 5 January 1988 in Tralee.
He married (4 July 1957) Margaret (‘Peggy’), daughter of Patrick and Bridget Sadlier, Imperial Hotel, Catherine St., Limerick. They had four sons and lived at Racecourse Lawn, Tralee, Co. Kerry. In 1999 a commemorative stamp was issued by An Post to mark his inclusion in the football team of the millennium. The GAA museum contains film highlights of the 1947 All-Ireland final in which he played.