Monday 19 August 2019

'If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have won an All-Ireland' - Offaly great Richie Connor pays tribute to the late Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee
Eugene McGee
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

The captain of the All-Ireland winning Offaly team in 1982 has paid tribute to their legendary manager Eugene McGee who passed away overnight.

Richie Connor captained the side who beat Kerry in unforgettable style, stopping the Kingdom in their tracks in their drive-for-five.

He said McGee took the time to get to know his players on a personal level and this touch of humanity was what made Eugene such a special leader and manager. 

“There is a fair chance that if it wasn’t for Eugene we wouldn’t have won an All-Ireland medal. He was a great manager,” he told Newstalk’s Off the Ball. 

“There is more to managing a county team than putting a team on the field on the day of the match. He took an interest in people's life and when you consider that a player’s career spans from the time in his life that he goes from underage, to full time job, to serious relationship, to getting married, getting their first house – there is all that stuff in the background and Eugene was very conscious of that kind of thing,” he said.

“To be able to keep the team and the whole lot together and have the best players on the field on the day, they were his greatest attributes.”

“The first name that comes when you think of 82 is Seamus Darby but the next name is Eugene McGee I would think and he was right up there, it was the start of manager profile type times,” he added. 

He said he was a “great support” to players coming into the county team. 

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“It wasn’t that he put his arm around anyone or anything like that but he would have done quiet things like helping a fella to get a job or pointing a fella towards the bank to get a mortgage. He wouldn’t have been a guy that was over chatting to fellas but a great man to see what was needed and, generally speaking, a great support to players.”

GAA president John Horan also paid tribute to McGee today.

“Eugene McGee was a giant of Gaelic Football," he said.

“Like Mick O’Dwyer and Kevin Heffernan, with whom he shared so many sideline battle of wits, Eugene was considered a man ahead of his time and responsible for creating a new era of popularity for the game in the 70s and 80s.

“A straight-talking man of great integrity, Eugene was a hugely respected journalist and author and his passion for the game always shone through.

“The GAA benefitted greatly from this passion through his work on the field, and also through his commitment off it where Eugene was instrumental in helping to aid the evolvement of Gaelic football and was a former Chairman of a Football Review Committee.

“He was passionate about rural Ireland and of the important role that GAA Clubs have to play in supporting these communities. Indeed, he was only recently assisting our Community and Health department in an ambassadorial role for an event in Longford.

“On behalf of a very grateful Association I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to his wife Marian, his daughter Linda, son Conor and his many friends throughout the country. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.”

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