Two illustrious former Mayo footballers passed away in recent days but their deaths, after long and fulfilled lives, have been overshadowed by the shocking and untimely death yesterday of 26 year-old Leitrim footballer Philly McGuinness.
John Forde of Ardnaree Sarsfields was, of course, a member of the 1950 and 1951 All-Ireland winning teams, where he formed part of a teak-tough full-back line alongside Paddy Prendergast and Sean Flanagan. I’m not sure when he made his debut for the county but I know he was captain of the team in 1948 when we lost that year’s ‘Big Wind’ All-Ireland final to Cavan in highly controversial circumstances. Following those two All-Ireland winning years, he continued to line out at corner back for the following three years where the county’s championship campaigns all ended at the Connacht final stage. He did, however, win a league medal with the county in 1954. John died on Sunday at the ripe old age of 89 and his funeral mass takes place this Thursday at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina (details of the full funeral arrangements are available here).
Castlebar’s Mick Ruane played championship football for Mayo for a full decade, lining out first in 1959 and appearing every year from then until 1968. It was his bad fortune to be in his prime during a period when the county tasted little success – indeed, it wasn’t until 1964 that he got to play in his first Connacht final and he tasted provincial final defeat to Galway both that year and again two years later before he finally won his first and only Connacht senior medal when we beat Leitrim in that year’s decider. He lined out at full-forward that day, having played in the half-forwards earlier in the decade, and did so again in the All-Ireland semi-final the following month where the county went under to Meath. His final championship appearance for the county was in the following year’s Connacht final, where once again he ended up on the losing side against Galway. Mick died suddenly on Friday and he was buried yesterday.
Imminent death would, one suspects, have been the last thing on the mind of Leitrim inter-county footballer Philly McGuinness as he prepared to line out for his club Mohill in a league match against Melvin Gaels on Saturday but a freak accident during the game, where he banged his head against the knee of an opposing player, was the cause of his demise. He passed away at Beaumont Hospital yesterday afternoon. It’s a truly awful and shocking occurrence and one can only express deepest sympathies to his family and friends on their tragic and untimely loss. Philly’s funeral mass also takes place at 11 am on Thursday (further details here).
May they Rest in Peace.