Wednesday 21 August 2019

Farewell: GAA greats gather for funeral of iconic manager McGee

The coffin is carried from the cathedral. Photos: Damien Eagers
The coffin is carried from the cathedral. Photos: Damien Eagers
Tears: Son Conor, daughter-in-law Saoirse, wife Marion and daughter Linda. Photos: Damien Eagers
Eugene McGee
John O’Mahony, Sean Kelly, Jim Gavin and John Costello. Photos: Damien Eagers

John Greene

A spontaneous round of applause on the forecourt of St Mel's Cathedral in Longford sent Eugene McGee on his way to his final resting place, 17km away in his native Aughnacliffe.

Earlier, during his funeral Mass, there had been tears and laughter as his long-time friend and colleague PJ Cunningham recalled McGee's brilliance as a football manager, journalist and businessman.

Eugene passed away suddenly early last Sunday, just hours after his son Conor's wedding. Just as in 1982, when he had won a race against time to mastermind the defeat of Kerry and their drive for five-in-a-row, said PJ, so he had won another race against time in welcoming Conor's new wife Saoirse into the McGee family before joining his late brothers Fr Phil and Paid, and sisters Sr Kathleen and Alice across the Great Divide.

Conor McGee recalled another side of Eugene, the loving husband of Marian and devoted father to both he and his sister Linda. Linda led the funeral cortège from the family home, through the streets of Longford, to the cathedral, perched on her distinctive trike, which was driven by Billy Beahan. It seemed fitting too that after the eulogies an instrumental rendition of 'My Way' rang out in the cathedral.

Kerry legends Mick O'Dwyer, Jack O'Shea, Jimmy Deenihan and John O'Keeffe had paid their respects to the family the previous evening, while goal hero Séamus Darby and his marker that day, Tommy Doyle, were in St Mel's Cathedral yesterday.

The ball from that most famous of All-Ireland finals and a copy of Eugene's memoir were displayed during the requiem Mass.

Others in attendance were former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, senator and former All-Ireland winning manager John O'Mahony, John Costello from Dublin County Board, businessman Michael Dolan, former referee John Bannon, former GAA president and MEP Sean Kelly and Liam Mulvihill, the former ard stiúrthóir of the GAA. President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were officially represented.

Offaly '82 team members Liam Currams and Richie Connor joined with Conor McGee and Michael Dolan in lowering Eugene's remains in Colmcille Cemetery.

Irish Independent

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