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Thursday 18 September 2014

A sportsman who made many friends

Published 09/01/2013 | 10:20

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The late John Joe Naughton

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1951-2012 JOHN JOE Naughton of St Brendan's Park, Tralee, whose untimely death occurred at the comparatively young age of 61 years, was an all-round talented athlete and footballer who graced many a football field with his silken skills.

Along with neighbours and school friends his interest firstly in Gaelic football was nurtured in CBS, Clounalour, under the watchful eye of school teacher Micheal Hayes.

The school leagues were played with the same intensity as an All-Ireland final and John Joe made his mark, in more ways than one, against the opposition. He wore the black and amber of Austin Stacks and his commanding presence in the full-back berth made him an automatic choice on all under-age teams.

He donned the No. 3 shirt on the Stacks minor team which won the county championship in 1969, but played only a few senior games for the club in the Kerryman Shield and county league, which was a great pity.

His loss to Gaelic football was certainly soccer and St Brendan's Park FC's gain, for he won every accolade possible with them. It was as a goal poaching centre forward that John Joe was renowned and many opposing defences and goalkeepers had the task of retrieving the ball after he had stuck it in the back of the net.

The Low Field at the Basin also saw John Joe participate in the interfirm competitions. He had the distinction of representing Kerry in the Oscar Traynor Cup and his goalscoring prowess was admired by other county players.

Opposing players on the field became his friends off of it and he enjoyed their company over a friendly drink. Whether he won or lost the game, John Joe was sure to make people smile as he shared stories and told jokes.

John Joe was the second child and eldest son born to parents Tom Naughton and Alice Trant of St Brendan's Park, Tralee. His siblings were sisters Doreen, Anne and Helen and brothers Jeremiah and Tommy.

After leaving school, John Joe went out into the workforce, where he worked with various companies including The Kerryman, Connie Leary Haulage, Kellihers Mills and Kingdom Tubes. It was in his last place of employment as security guard at CH Chemists that he will be remembered by most people. Behind the imposing figure was a man who treated the customers with great respect and was held in the highest esteem by his employers and fellow workers.

Illness curtailed his work when he was diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy in June, 2008. This progressive and incurable disease took away his mobility and speech over a period of time. Just as on the football and soccer fields, John Joe battled to the last and showed remarkable courage in the face of such adversity.

He received great support from family and friends during this difficult period. One of his steadfast callers was Christy Leahy who encouraged John Joe to join the Park FC as a young boy and they spent many happy hours reminiscing about great wins and losses.

Sadly, John Joe lost his biggest battle when he passed away on Wednesday, December 5. His family will forever be grateful to all who cared for him during his illness - Dr Patricia Sheehan and the Palliative Care team at Kerry General Hospital, Dr Helena Moore, Dr Hild, his home help carers Liam Heaslip and Bill Holmes and also the doctors, nurses and staff of the Bon Secours.

John Joe's remains reposed at home on Thursday, December 6 with removal to Our Lady and St Brendan's Church on Friday for Requiem Mass at 11am, followed by interment at Rath Cemetery. The funeral cortege was flanked by guards of honour from the Park FC and Austin Stacks.

John Joe was predeceased by his father Tom in 1995.

He is mourned by his sons Tommy and Michael, mother Alice, sisters Doreen, Anne and Helen, brothers Jeremiah and Tommy, grand-daughters Katie and Amy, relatives and numerous friends.

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