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Friends we lost

01 April 2008
Mr. John Wilson
The death occurred at St. James’ Hospital, Dublin at 5.20am on Monday 9th July of Mr. John Wilson, 13 Braemer Avenue, Churchtown, Dublin 14, a former Fianna Fail TD, Tanaiste and Minister ending a remarkable career for this Mullahoran native. A former University lecturer, politician and gaelic footballer, he served the country in a number of ministerial portfolios in Fianna Fail administrations. Aged 84 and a Mullahoran man born and bred, he was a native of Callnagh/Kilcogy and was born on 3rd July, 1923.
He received his early education at Clonoose and Cloncovid National Schools, St. Mels College, Longford, St. Kierans College, Kilkenny, St. Patricks College, Maynooth, University College, Galway, University College, Dublin, the University of London and National University of Ireland where he obtained an M.A.,H.Dip.Ed. A former secondary school teacher at Gonzaga College and university lecturer, he was holder of a Masters degree in Ancient Classics (Latin-Greek) and was also lecturer in Classics at UCD. He also had teaching posts at four secondary schools as well as UCD and St. Patricks College of Education and was on the staff of St. Eunans College, Letterkenny.
Mr. Wilson’s early background was as a busy intellectual. He was a past president of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland and a founder member and member of the European Association of Teachers.
A Dail Deputy since 1973, he represented the single constituency of Cavan from 1973-1977 and Cavan-Monaghan from 1977. He was Front Bench spokesman on Education and the Arts from 1973-77; Minister for Education from 1977-81 and spent a one year period as spokesman in the same department in 1981. He was later front bench spokesman on Communications from 1982-87, and was Minister for Transport and Post and Telegraphs from March-December 1982, and Minister for Tourism and Transport from March 1987-July 1989 before his last Ministerial post in the Department of The Marine in the Fianna Fail/PD Coalition Government of 1989-92.
Affable and gregarious, he was once described as the classical example of a good educational "end product" which schools of his era hoped to produce. His educational journey took him from St. Mels in Longford, the NUI, University of Spain and the University of London where he became a Latin and Greek scholar and was fluent in Spanish and some French.
Mr. Wilson joined Fianna Fail in the early seventies and was elected to the Committee of 15. He was on the officer board of the Dublin South East and later Dublin South Central constituency executives of Fianna Fail. He returned to his native county in 1973 to seek the nomination and was elected to the Dail in the General Election of that year. He served on the front bench as spokesman on Education and the arts from 1973-1977 and following the 1977 General Election was appointed Minster for Education. He harboured ambitions for the Fianna Fail leadership in 1979 but instead of pursuing these he supported George Colley against Charlie Haughey.
He took over the role of Tanaiste from the late Brian Lenihan in November 1990. His elevation came only two months after he had sparked off an unexpected contest for the Fianna Fail party’s presidential election, when it was assumed Mr. Lenihan was going to be the automatic choice. Then the oldest member of the Cabinet, at 66, Mr. Wilson made no secret of the seriousness of his bid, actively canvassing Fianna Fail deputies by letter and telephone. The then Taoiseach Charlie Haughey gave the number 2 job to Mr. Wilson, the appointment coming exactly two weeks after Mr. Haughey had sacked Brian Lenihan from the post in order to keep the Coalition Government (with the PDs) intact after the "phone call to the Aras" controversy.
Even if the Tanaiste’s portfolio might have been regarded then as something of a consolation prize for that disappointment, few would disagree that Mr. Wilson had the necessary experience, cross-party appeal and sharp political instincts to comfortably fit into his new role. His appointment was also seen as a contributing and calming influence on the party, at a time of grassroots discontent in the wake of Mr. Lenihan’s sacking. As one of the elder statesmen in the party, Mr. Wilson was seen as no threat to Mr. Haughey with no strong ambitions to take over the party leadership himself.
Then aged 67 he was the oldest member of the Cabinet and was always considered a front runner for the post. He was seen as safe appointment in the sense that Mr. Haughey was giving no hint as to who his eventual successor might be. Mr. Wilson was taking over from a man who beat him for the Fianna Fail Presidential nomination the previous September by 51 votes to 19 but Mr. Wilson earned a lot of respect by the manner in which he took his defeat. At the time, Mr. Wilson admitted after his appointment of a "certain sensitivity" in taking over the job as Tanaiste from his former Cabinet colleague of long standing.
Mr. Wilson was Minister for the Marine at the time and successfully succeeded in finally stilling the stormy waters of the then long-running and bitter rod license dispute.
Mr. Wilson’s decision to retire when he held the posts of Tanaiste and Minister for Defence and the Gaeltacht came as a shock to his colleagues and friends and brought down the curtain on his Dail career and deprived Leinster House of one of its few eloquent orators.
He stepped down as one of Fianna Fail’s Vice-Presidents at the Ard Fheis in Killarney in October, 2005.
When he took over Tourism and Transport in 1987 the momentum for development was in place. He set up the beginning of the plan to double tourism numbers over a five-year period, including lower air fare and opening up routes, in motion, giving £1m to Board Failte for promotion, and enjoyed at 15 per cent increase in foreign visitors during each of his two years as well as spearheading the Shannon/Erne Waterways project.
The business expansion scheme was improved, a special task force on tourism was set up and a package of measures, including the famous ’write and invite’ campaign given the go-ahead. Three years on the programme which began under him saw visitors numbers increase and job targets on line.
Mr. Wilson was a consistent poll topper in his constituency taking more than 9,661 first preferences in the 1989 General Election and exceeded the quota. While Minister for Post and Telegraphs, he was very much involved in initiating legislation, which led to the establishment of Telecom and An Post.
Mr. Wilson played a major part in Northern Ireland and was an integral member of the Government delegation to the Stormont Talks. Following his retirement from politics he was asked in July, 1998 by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to head the Government’s established Victims Commission which conducted a review of services and arrangements in place in this jurisdiction to meet the needs of those who had suffered as a result of violent action association with the conflict in the North over a thirty-one year period and to identify what further measures needed to be taken to acknowledge and address the suffering and concerns of those in question.
Along with his Northern counterpart Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, a former head of Civil Service in Northern Ireland, he had a particularly high profile and sensitive role in relation to tracing the whereabouts of the "bodies of the disappeared".
Being near to the Border and having close associations with members of both the majority and minority in the Six Counties he always showed his concern for the problems there and in the eighties was appointed to the New Ireland Forum.
It was hardly surprising that Mr. Wilson took a keen interest in politics north of the border. His grandfather James Wilson was a Fenian and Mr. Wilson was a first cousin of Fr. Des Wilson in Belfast, who was among the strongest supporters among the clergy of the Civil Rights movement in the North during the late sixties and into the seventies.
Mr. Wilson had a deep and abiding interest in the various form of the arts. He was chairman and later vice-chairman of the Dublin-based Arts Council for a period in the nineties and later remained on as a member. His wife Ita has exhibited a number of her own paintings at various exhibitions including Cavan Arts Society annual art exhibition where Mr. Wilson performed the official opening annually for a number of years. The opening of Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff was, from his point of view, a welcome addition to the county.
John Wilson was born into a deep, gaelic football tradition in Mullahoran. His father played for and was secretary of the local Dreadnoughts club. John enjoyed success with the club when from 1942 to 1950 they suffered only one defeat and that was in a final.
He was selected for Cavan minors and juniors before making his senior debut in 1943. In that year he captured his first senior medal when Cavan defeated Monaghan in the Ulster final. In 1945 Cavan reached the All-Ireland final against Cork, which the Leesiders won in a team that included Jack Lynch who was achieving his fifth consecutive All-Ireland medal, having won four in hurling.
Two years later that disappointment was forgotten when playing in defence, he helped Cavan overcome Kerry in the famous 1947 Polo Grounds final in New York. Speaking in an interview, Johnny was in no doubt about his favourite player, Tommy Murphy of Laois. "He was the best player of my era. He really was a wonderful player and he could perform anywhere."
Johnny and his colleagues of the ’47 team were honoured at the 1990 All-Ireland football final in Croke Park where there was a Guard of Honour for commentator of that famous occasion the late Micheal O’Hehir. Cavan retained their All-Ireland crown against Mayo the following year, where Johnny was among the subs and on the bench were some of the heroes of the previous year’s team among them TP O’Reilly.
He followed the fortunes of his club Mullahoran and was present to celebrate their senior championship success in 1998, the first senior title since 1963, and rarely, if ever missed a game at whatever venue throughout the country.
He was described in Jim Farrelly’s 1989 November edition of "Whose Who in Irish Politics" as an urbane, witty orator and classics scholar who can also be a stubborn countryman, and a non-violent Republican".
Despite his vast knowledge and his brilliance as a speaker he never lost the rapish tongue of the Mullahoran man. He could be fiery on and off the field and trade wry wittisms in Dail exchanges, when on occasion he might be prone to quote some of the Greek Scholars or impart his knowledge in the Latin vernacular.
Mr. Wilson was honoured in March, 2001 by the National University of Ireland when he was conferred with an Honourary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) and was presented with the Honourary Doctorate the following November.
On his election as TD he purchased a house in Kilgolagh, Finea, where he resided at weekends and enjoyed meeting his friends and neighbours.
In the final years of his retirement he spent a number of hours of his leisure time in the National Library but failing eyesight curtailed his passion for reading and research.
Cavan Co. Board GAA recently elected him their Honourary President.
He is survived by his wife Ita, son John, daughters Clare, Siobhan, Lucy and Maria, his brothers Eugene and Aiden, Dublin and sisters Mrs. Agnes Harte, Cavan and Mrs. May Brady, Loughduff and nephew Senator Diarmuid Wilson.
Courtesy of The Anglo Celt

James ’Jim’ Clarke
Jim Clarke could not be dead? He was in hospital the previous month and we expected him to pull through just like he had accomplished two years earlier. But alas the bad news was true as Jim went to his eternal reward in late August, at home, surround by his loving family.
Jim Clarke was a Mullagh and Cavan man through and through. We know it is a fairly accurate assessment to say that everybody in the expanding east coast town and bordering area knew Jim Clarke, such was the charisma and dynamics of the man. Jim was in his early 60s and in the past 30 years, built up a hugely successful accountancy practice in both Mullagh and Bailieboro.
After some time spent in the UK, accountancy was a late vocation for the Mullagh man. But when Jim obtained the final exam results and established his business, he rapidly atoned for those earlier missing years. Never one to sit back, he quickly introduced himself into a number of related bodies and his life epitaph could read President of this group, Secretary of another or Chairman of some reputed entity. And these were not local but posts held at national level.
We came to know Jim Clarke back in the early 90s and ever since his company looked after our financial affairs. Manys the time money was ever so tight but Jim was always there, brimming with ideas, suggestions and energy. He never lacked a fertile imagination, that’s for sure and usually his directions were the correct ones and often pulled us out of a dark hole. Jim Clarke took a particular delight in overcoming a problem and his motto often sounded like ’that providing you are doing no wrong or hurting anybody, then the end justifies the means.’
Jim, like any Cavan man, loved his football. Loved the blue of Cavan or any team emerging from Cross Mullagh parish. He was a permanent seat holder in Breffni Park and longed for the day when Cavan were back on the big scene. Like all those living in east Cavan, there was nothing better for Jim than beating the ’ould enemy of Meath, even though he secretly shouted for the Royals on All-Ireland final day.
Blood was thicker than water as Jim would say and he had relatives living across the county boundary. One recalls a NFL game between the two back about 5 or 6 years ago in Breffni. Cavan were deserving winners. That Sunday night about 12.30am I got a call (Jim Clarke was known to work and correspond with clients into the early hours).
’Aarrh John’ said the voice at the other end, ’I was just looking over those figures’ and suddenly there was a pause and the tone increased and the topic changed with the question ’were you at the game today?’ Another pause and the reply (I suppose I was ready for this one), ’God no Jim, I was in England, I just could not come home in time,’ trying to tell him that I was only a wee bit interested in the score. A bloody lie Jim, I was at the game. Anyway seeing my disappointment of not being there, he had to give me a blow by blow account of events. ’Begob lad, Cavan were up for it today.’ The boys in blue were getting better by the minute, What had I let myself in for. I wondered if Meath had actually won, what the response would have been and by now it was about 3.30 in the morning.
Jim, like his brothers Charles and Noel, played with the old Mullagh club. (Sadly Charles died only two weeks after his brother). Later Jim became highly involved with underage matters at Cuchulainns. His son Seamus, now a regular on the club senior team, was then developing into a fine footballer and Jim Clarke as was his nature, made sure that these underage teams lacked in any capacity, be it financial or coaching. Tony Dunne was brought in and a new friendship was born. Needless to remark, numerous underage titles were won and these young boys of 10 years back now backbone the Cuchulainns senior team.
When it came to financial matters, Jim Clarke had no equals. Some years back he was asked to obtain sponsorship for the Cavan lady footballers who were very much in their infancy stages. The amount of money he gathered from various companies was staggering and whether the Cavan County Board knew of this venture or were unaware of Jim’s efforts, they missed one heck of an opportunity to have on board a money maker supreme.
He was also quick to help those in need. People who had fallen on hard times. Jim’s advice and remedy were just the tonic. No fee was requested and there are a few Cavan GAA officials around today who can testify to Jim Clarke’s expertise in turning financial affairs in their favour.
At the end of the day and first and foremost in James’ life was his family. His wife Eilish, daughters Yvonne, Aisling, Aoife and Ursula and son Seamus were his pride and joy. Each of his children received an education ’par excellence’, a fact which Jim was justifiably proud of.
Jim Clarke was and would like to be called a man of honour. He had his principles and was never afraid of expressing these views in public. Some would say that he was a man ahead of his time. Subsequently he was prone to little verbal disagreements and especially on the football field. But for goodness sake, football is only football (well, most of the time) and each and every one of those men who argued with Jim over the years were first to the Clarke household and there again to offer their sincerest sympathies on the day of the funeral. Jim Clarke was much more highly thought of around Mullagh than even he imagined.
On a personal note, goodbye old friend, keep off those damn cigarettes and by the time we meet again, I am sure you will have a bucketful of yarns to spin.
J.L.

Phelim Costello, Ballyhaise
’When sorrows come, they come not as simple spies, but in battalions’
- Shakespeare (Hamlet)
When Phelim Costello passed away in Cavan General Hospital on February 8th, 2007, it was difficult to describe the variety of emotions triggered in those of us lucky to have known this noble man. We felt sad and angry that our friend in his short life had had to endure too much heartache and suffering, and with so much to look forward to, had been taken away before his time. But to some extent this is to miss the point of Phelim’s journey with us, his remarkable impact on those whom he met, and the legacy of love, courage respect and good-humour passed to those whom he loved most in his immediate family.
When one reflects on what Phelim achieved in his life, how this shy and modest man could be so well regarded and admired by all who knew him, is to acknowledge the personal qualities of intelligence, wit, courtesy and respect which were always his virtues, no matter what the circumstances!
We first met as small boys on the sidelines of our beloved Drumalee GFC where our fathers gave dedicated and loyal service. To this day Phelim’s Father, Jimmy Costello is a stalwart of the club. Having completed his primary education at the De La Salle Brothers in Cavan town, again we found ourselves side by side in St. Patricks College for five great years. Happiness they say, is a way of travelling not a destination, and our journey was a fruitful one. Phelim was an excellent student and had an impeccable academic record. Studies were taken seriously but the playing pitches were our paradise. We garnered Corn na nOg and Ranafast Cup titles as if they happened every year, but painfully fell short in the MacRory Cup final in Omagh in March 1975. St. Colmans, Newry who beat us in a tense, tight encounter went on to win the Hogan Cup in a canter! In ways unknown to us on that day, we all experienced feelings and learned lessons which would stand us in good steed elsewhere.
Having left St. Patricks College Phelim moved to UCD to study and graduate with an Honours B. Comm. He was joined there by friends from St. Patricks College who were to become life-long friends, and with whom he enjoyed his college days to the full.
At this time Phelim had graduated to a Drumalee team backboned by his brothers Fergus, John and Tommy, who with the O’Keeffes, Maguires, Leddys and many others combined to ensure we were as competitive as we were social, and provided a team where commitment, skill, camaraderie and good craic were the normal ingredients for every fixture. We had great wins, but some painful losses too. The senior finals of 1981 and ’84 when we lost narrowly to Kingscourt and Laragh respectively’ were tough occasions for us all. It is especially sad to note that of the Drumalee panel who were involved in the Centenary senior final in 1984, six are now deceased. Andy Monson, Sean Leddy, Patrick Sharkey and just this year Peter Higgins and Mick O’Connor (in USA). "Ar dheis Dé go rabhadar go léir."
Having being involved in the Fr. Manning Cup team, the county minor and Under 21 team which lost out in the Ulster finals, Phelim progressed to the Cavan senior team, managed at that time by Eugene McGee. He was an exceptional player showing maturity, strength of character and leadership and gave outstanding displays in the blue jersey, at one stage topping the prestigious National League scoring chart.
In 1982 he married Paula Cronin, the love of his life, and soon afterwards moved from Castleknock to Ballyhaise where Phelim had been working as an accountant with Tractamotors. They celebrated the arrival of Eamonn, Aoife, Fiona and Niall and settled into a lovely way of life in Cavan. If it is true that the most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother, then these children were cherished. Every occasion was a family occasion with Phelim and Paula, and we became accustomed to the chorus of support for Phelim from the sidelines. In fairness they always got plenty to cheer about!
Phelim moved to work for his team-mate and good friend Joe Gormley in his thriving business on the Dublin Road. It gave Phelim an opportunity to display one of his great strengths viz dealing with people. He was, until his death, dedicated, loyal and committed to the company, acknowledged as an outstanding manager, and regarded with exceptional fondness by colleagues and business associates.
When Paula’s health first gave cause for concern their attitude was to live each day to the full. They certainly did that!
Phelim was protective of his family at this time, keen to take every opportunity to celebrate together, yet mindful of the needs of each individual. As usual he played a blinder! When Paula’s health declined, Phelim worked hard to hold the balance between home and heart. Few will forget the daily return trips to St. Luke’s Hospital to visit Paula. Phelim, ever the optimist, held the view that only when it is dark can the stars be seen! When Paula died in May 2002 we observed the dignity and courage of the family as they minded each other through the turmoil.
In August 2002, Peggy Costello, Phelim’s mother passed away after a short illness. She was a defining presence in the Costello household, dedicated, loving and so proud of all her children. Her passing went hard on all the family, but in the circumstances Phelim and his children’s sense of loss was acute.
Living in Ballyhaise it was only natural that the family became involved in the GAA Club - ’The auld enemy’ - where Eamonn was already a rising star with Niall also involved at Juvenile level. Phelim involved himself in the parish and the club in his usual enthusiastic way, and would have us believe that the Ballyhaise crowd weren’t that bad after all! In truth he loved it there, and became close friends with many members of the community. His popularity was very evident in the throngs from Castletara who attended the funeral and interral.
In 2004, we heard that Phelim was ill and had tests conducted in Cavan General Hospital. Surely, we hoped, this was some routine ailment that could be treated with medication or surgery. It was unthinkable that any further hardship could be visited on Phelim or his family. This was especially our hope as Phelim had formed a new relationship with Annamarie McCaffrey, a colleague at work, and they had so much to look forward to. For those years Phelim battled hard to stay in control of his destiny, to protect his family from his serious illness, and offer Annamarie the future they had planned together in their new home in Corlough. Wedding arrangements were finalised, the weekend was set aside and we looked forward to the celebration. Phelim and Annamarie married quietly in early February in Cavan Town.
Sadly Phelim died quite suddenly soon afterwards, leaving us to marvel of memories from a life so well spent, of fun-filled family occasions, of curling left footed scores from any angle and distance you care to think about, of courage and wisdom in the face of the cruellest hardships, of a dad and son, a brother and friend "den chéad scoth". The tragedy of life may well not be what we suffer, but rather what we miss. Phelim is missed greatly!
To his children, Eamonn, Aoife, Fiona and Niall, to Annamarie and Liam, to his brothers Fergus, John, Tommy and his sister Fionnuala, to his Father Jimmy, and his father-in-law Johnny Cronin, one of his greatest admirers and friends, to the McCaffrey family, and to Phelim’s relations and our many friends, we offer sympathy and prayers.
"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die."
P. McG.
Drumalee GFC
June 2007

Eamonn Coleman
The death occurred after a brief illness at Belfast City Hospital of former Cavan, Derry and Longford team manager Eamonn Coleman. A colourful and sometimes controversial figure, he was aged 60 and had been suffering from a form of cancer which had been diagnosed in August 2005 as cancer of the lung called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Coleman, a former bricklayer, was a native of Ballymaguigan in South Derry, and became Cavan team manager in September 2003 in succession to former Meath star Matt Kerrigan. Prior to his appointment his reputation which had preceded him was further strengthened by his success with Cavan club Gowna and he helped them achieve a number of senior championship successes.
He played in all grades of football with Derry and began his club career with his native Ballymaguigan St. Trea’s GFC on the senior team at the age of 14. He was on the Derry minor team which claimed the county’s first ever All-Ireland title in 1965. Three years later with virtually the same team he won an All-Ireland Under 21 championship medal. He won his only Ulster senior championship medal in 1970 but then carved a unique niche for himself in team management.
Coleman guided the county to their second All-Ireland minor title in 1983 and was the fore-runner of a much greater achievement when he was at the helm ten years later, 1993 when Derry won the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time defeating Cork in the final following his appointment to the senior post in 1991.
His appointment came at a time when Derry were struggling in Division 2 of the National League. But then two years and seven months later Derry had won the All-Ireland, National League and an Ulster title.
In the All-Ireland final Cork had been down to fourteen players late in the first-half of that game and Coleman made sure his side made the best use of the extra man in the second half. He instilled self-belief into the players and they responded brilliantly.
It was a remarkable transformation and Coleman who showed his coaching skills in the successful 1983 All-Ireland minor win, was again hugely influential in bringing about this success.
He led Derry to their first national league title for 45 years in 1992 and a year later, he saw his side crowned All-Ireland senior champions. His first term as Derry manager ended the following year in 1994 when he was sensationally sacked by Derry County Board but returned in 1999 succeeding Brian Mullins and in 2000 guided the senior team to another National League title, beating Meath in a replayed final.
Those who knew him in Derry say there was no one more passionate about gaelic football and he enjoyed success as a player and manager. He quit as team manager with Derry in August 2002.
His start to his job as Cavan team manager in 2003 was interrupted when he had to serve a two month suspension imposed on him for verbally abusing referee Joe McQuillan from Kill during the 2003 Cavan Gaels v Gowna senior championship drawn semi-final. He was in charge of the Gowna team at the time.
A hard taskmaster, his personality didn’t endear him to many as he had a sharp tongue which he didn’t shy away from using against players, officials, referees and members of the media. The fact that he brought success to Gowna only a short time after he became associated with the club in the early nineties and was coach to the victorious championship winning teams of 1996, ’97, ’99 and 2002 was a tribute to is motivational skills as well as his coaching ability. He had taken a break in 2001 to look after the Derry team and left the club side in the capable hands of Dessie Brady. However, Coleman returned the following year to lead the club to another title, leaving Gowna with five titles in six years.
It was a big blow to Coleman when Gowna lost their crown in 2003 to old rivals Cavan Gaels. However, those early successes marked him down as a coach of remarkable attributes of toughness in dealing with teams, skilful in his coaching methods where he formed successful management teams in Derry with Mickey Moran, Dinny McKeever, Harry Gribben and Craig Mahoney, an Australian psychologist, an innovation in the GAA at that time in 1993 and with Adrian McGuckian, Harry Gribben and Dinny McKeever in ’95.
He then had a brief period with Longford, before taking charge of the Breffni senior and under 21 teams he set his sights on preparing the players for the 2004 provincial championship and national league and got the players together in October 2003, one month after taking office.
Cavan’s past history and tradition and the deeds of the teams of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties were of little concern to him. Giving his first interview to the Anglo-Celt following his appointment he said, "Cavan’s great history and tradition is what it is, merely history. Cavan have only achieved one Ulster senior title since 1969 and that was in 1997 under Donegal man Martin McHugh, who, he said, also brought the team up from Division 3 of the National League to Division 1. Other than that Cavan have not been a force and have been in the doldrums for a long time."
He maintained in the same interview that it would be a "long, tough road for Cavan football. Whether the material was there in the clubs to make an impact in Ulster in the next couple of years was a question to be answered. It was going to be a long road back before Cavan would be able to challenge for the Ulster senior title." How true his prediction was.
"At this stage (September 2003) it will be a big achievement to get past the first round. Cavan were beaten by Antrim last year (2002) and, meaning no disrespect to Antrim, when you get beaten by them you are in trouble."
In the last part of the interview, speaking of his hopes for Cavan he said, "I would hope to achieve something over a three year period and begin to build a team." Alas, Eamonn was unable to achieve that success.
He had been joined by Martin McElkennon as his assistant, a former member of the management team in Derry.
Coleman had his many critics and his resignation from the Derry management team following a trip to the United States marked him as someone who invariably did what suited him and would not pander to any kind of officialdom if he felt he was being hard done by or even undermined. He was also proud of the achievements of his son Gary who played with Derry in various grades and was a member of the 1993 All-Ireland winning team.
Eamonn was a builder by profession and worked in the housing construction sector in the midlands for some years. It was his association with Gowna that will be remembered. He struck up many friendships in the small village on the Cavan/Longford border and in particular the O’Reilly family and their daughter Colette, who was his partner for the past ten years. If you wanted to find out some information about the Cavan or Gowna teams and ring O’Reilly’s at the most "Inappropriate time, 7.30pm on a Monday or Wednesday evening you would be informed by him; "Don’t talk to me know, I’m watching Coronation Street, ring me later."
Thus were the simple pleasures of a man with football in his veins but found time to take his mind off the pressures of team management.
He was rarely out of the headlines when he was involved with Cavan, Derry or Longford but his success as a manager at county level cannot be denied. He was also successful as manager of the UUJ team which won two Sigerson Cup University football titles.
His illness prevented him from being involved in Cavan’s preparations for the 2004 Ulster championship and All-Ireland qualifying competitions and he was replaced by his assistant Martin McElkennon but maintained his interest through radio and television and daily communication with members of the team management.
He had made good progress in the interim and