Dermot will be remembered for that famous day and his music
Dermot OBrien, who died on Monday night aged 74, had the distinction of captaining the last Louth team to win the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.That occurred in 1957 when the Wee County defeated Cork in Croke Park on a 1-9 to 1-7 scoreline.OBrien, who had been battling ill-health for some time, is the third member of the victorious side to
Dermot O’Brien, who died on Monday night aged 74, had the distinction of captaining the last Louth team to win the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.
That occurred in 1957 when the ‘Wee County’ defeated Cork in Croke Park on a 1-9 to 1-7 scoreline.
O’Brien, who had been battling ill-health for some time, is the third member of the victorious side to pass away following the deaths of Tom Conlon and Sean Cunningham.
After his football career, the former Ardee St. Mary’s and Navan O’Mahony’s player forged a very successful music career here and in the United States, becoming a well-known accordion player.
GAA President Nickey Brennan gave his own tribute to Dermot yesterday (Tuesday): “Dermot O’Brien was a renowned musician and singer and his recording of “The Merry Ploughboy’ went straight to number 1 in the Irish charts in 1966. He hosted his own television programmes, including ‘The Dermot O’Brien Show’ on RTE and his talents as an accordion player were respected the world over.
“He also had a great love of the Irish language and his All-Ireland winning speech in 1957 was delivered primarily in the native tongue.”
Brennan described Dermot O’Brien as an immensely talented man who had left a huge impression on the many thousands of people who had seen him play football and entertain at the highest level.
He said that everyone in the GAA would be saddened to hear of the death of such an iconic figure.
It’s a part of GAA folklore in Louth that O’Brien nearly never made it onto the field for the ‘57 final having not travelled to the ground with the rest of the team as he was receiving treatment for a shoulder injury.
On arrival at Croke Park he discovered the gates locked at the Cusack Stand where the dressingrooms were, and had to go round to the Hogan Stand side to try to get in.
All the while the loudspeaker was calling for the Louth captain to report to the dressingroom, and he eventually made it with minutes to spare.
The centre half forward recalled afterwards that he didn’t start to play until the second half as the whole episode affected him.
Ironically, it was O’Brien’s St. Mary’s team-mate Patsy Coleman who started out as captain that year a position he held until the Leinster Final victory over Dublin. A broken arm ruled him out of that game but he accepted the cup afterwards.
As senior champions in 1956, the Mary’s held the right to have one of their players as captain, so O’Brien got the nod, and he led Louth to a comfortable semi-final win over Tyrone.
Coleman came into the team as a sub against Tyrone and retained his place for the decider, but O’Brien held onto the captaincy on the toss of a coin.
Dermot O’Brien’s roll of honour also includes the 1953 Leinster Championship, and two other senior club championships with the Mary’s in 1951 and 1960.
He captained Leinster to Railway Cup success in 1958 and the Rest of Ireland in victory over the Combined Universities the same year.
With Navan O’Mahony’s he won the Feis Cup in 1955 and ‘56.
His final match for Louth was against Westmeath in the 1960 championship.
A clerical officer with Meath County Council, O’Brien resigned from his job in 1962 to concentrate on a professional career in music.
His father Paddy was a founder-member of the Ardee Brass and Reed Band, and music was a part of his life since childhood.
Dermot O’Brien enjoyed a huge following throughout Ireland, Britain and America where he emigrated to in January, 1983.
He returned home to Ireland some years ago, and was a regular attender at many functions, like the civic reception hosted by Louth County Council for the ‘57 team last February in the Fairways Hotel to mark the Golden Jubilee of their All-Ireland win.
Unfortunately, he was unable to attend Sunday’s get-together in Croke Park for the same team before the Leinster Championship game between Louth and Wicklow. However, Dermot’s family was represented at the event.