Sport Gaelic Football

Thursday 23 November 2017

Passionate team player will be sorely missed

Shane McEntee was a proud Meath man and a loyal friend, writes Colm O'Rourke

With Shane McEntee what you saw was what you got. Whether it was at corner-back for Nobber, a manager of various teams, a Government minister or family man he was one and the same. A big honest presence who threw himself into every challenge with every good characteristic of the human spirit.

Shane McEntee would give you the shirt off his back. He had a generosity and softness about him which made him an enormously popular figure with those who knew him. And the achievement of high political office did not change him: when he called at this house he always came in the back door, the tradesman's entrance. It summed him up, a quiet cup of tea and always he would ask about all the family.

A few days at the Galway races were enjoyable in his company. He nearly always won something too as he seemed to back most horses in every race, but he relaxed and laughed and was marvellous company.

He and his family have made a huge contribution to the GAA in Meath. They know the true value of friends, community and good citizenship, the importance of doing things for the common good, of creating self-confidence in people and helping them to be the best they can be. Shane had a way of making people feel good about themselves and was at his best in trying everything he could to help those in need. Those at the margins of society, who he cared passionately about, have lost a true champion of their cause.

When Shane McEntee went for the Dail first in 2005 he was the outsider, and his odds in the bookies shops reflected that.

At the time of his nomination to run I was at a meeting in the football club and asked everyone how they were going to vote. They were nearly all Fianna Fail supporters but everyone said they were voting for Shane McEntee. This piece of very unscientific research confirmed to me what I thought all along, that Shane McEntee would cross all political divides. It was not a matter of who he was running against and was no reflection on them, it was just the fact he was universally liked.

My friends and I, many from the opposite side of the house, had a good bet on Shane to win the seat and he loved the story of how winning a Fine Gael seat in Meath had lined the pockets of the Fianna Fail supporters.

Yet he was more than a party man, he loved people, and behind the exterior was a kindness and sensitivity which is lacking in today's society. People want to blame someone for every fault and politicians in general are treated badly, they have become the fall guys for all wrongs. It is totally unfair and unjustifiable and Shane at times had not a tough enough skin to tell those who make a lifetime habit of complaining where to get off. Mainly he tried to do too much, he gave willingly of everything he had and felt badly if he was not able to solve all problems.

Shane McEntee was a man you could have a row with easily and it would last at least half a minute. Then he was back to himself and would never want to leave anyone offended by anything he did or said.

That was his finest quality. He was a great team player, when he joined the squad at football or politics he was part of the army and wore the boots like everyone else. Some of the hard decisions troubled him but he never let the side down.

When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 his brother Ted said at the funeral that he "need not be enlarged in death beyond what he was in life but to be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it". It is as true of Shane McEntee. He was a true and loyal friend to those of us privileged to know him, he was proud of his club and county, a passionate supporter of Meath when his brother Gerry was playing and just the same for the next generation represented this year on the minor team by nephews Shane and James.

Yet most of all Shane McEntee was a wonderful family man, son, brother, father. It is a very difficult time for his mother Madge, brothers Alan, Gerry, Jimmy, Larry, Tony and Andrew, and sister Mary who all were very proud of him and his achievements.

He loved his wife Kathleen and children Aoife, Vincent, Helen and Sally above all else and his passing is a great tragedy.

Shane McEntee was just a nice man. We will all miss him.

Sunday Indo Sport

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