The Great Mick Loftus

September 19, 2013

Mick and Conor Loftus. INPHO
Hogan Stand is on the go for nearly a quarter of a century. No man has helped us more in our life span than Dr. Mick Loftus from Crossmolina. Mick pulled on the Green and Red with distinction, refereed All Ireland deciders and acted as President of the Association.

Sometimes when one reaches the highest office he/she tends to become more aloof, distant, they do not want to mix with us mere mortals. Not Mick Loftus though. If anything the genial doctor became more helpful and got us out of the 'odd fix' when coming up with an All Ireland final ticket.

Making Sunday even more special for the Loftus family will be the appearance of Conor Loftus, a grand-nephew of Mick in the Mayo minor attack. Like the grand-uncle Conor usually lines out in the right half forward position.

Know it was said over and over the years that no county deserved an All Ireland more than Mayo. And if the Westerners are to prevail on Sunday afternoon we will be thinking of Mick Loftus. Know Mick will want to see a fair, honest contest with the best team winning. But also know that no Mayo man or woman deserves to cheer their county on to All Ireland glory more than the Crossmolina legend.

Mark Higgins wrote a wonderful piece on the Loftus duo in this weeks Western People Special on the big match. We quote his final lines and start by referring to a minor final defeat against Tyrone back in 1947:

"We were so sad afterwards. We had come through to the final fairly well. We beat Sligo in the Connacht final in Ballina, and we beat Kerry in the semi-final in MacHale Park. That set us up to play Tyrone. Eddie Devlin was the captain of the Tyrone team, and he went on to greatness with Tyrone subsequently.

"Naturally as young fellas of 18 we were very disappointed. I remember there's a five hour gap between Dublin and New York. The senior final was on the same day ( Cavan and Kerry played that years decider in the Polo Grounds ) and we went to listen to Micheal O'Hehir's broadcast. There weren't many radios around then, but I'll always remember we went down to an ice-cream parlour on O'Connell Street to listen to the game. How times have changed."

Dr Mick put that disappointment behind him to go on and have a long and distinguished career in the GAA, both on and off the pitch. He served as Uachtaran Cumann Luthchleas Gael from 1985 to 1987, and will forever be remembered as a member of the squad who last brought the All Ireland senior title to Mayo in 1951.

"I was looking at a picture of the 1951 team recently. Of the 21 who are togged out, there are only five left. Three starters; Fr Peter Quinn, Paddy Prendergast and Padraig Carney, and Willie Casey and myself from the subs. Since last year Mickey Mulderrig left us, God rest him."

Dr Mick also served as a referee, officiating in All Ireland finals in the 1960's. He was in charge of the senior deciders in 1965 and 68, as well as the minor final of 1964. Dr Mick tells the story of the extraordinary lengths he went to make the latter game.

"I was in New York when I got the word. I was so proud of it I flew back on the Saturday. I had a taxi waiting for me outside Croke Park at the final whistle so I could make the plane back."

What he doesn't explain is the helping hand he received from fellow Crossmolina man John Nallen - a Mayo football legend in his own right - in order to make the flight. The only return plane departing for the US that day was at 3pm - the same time the minor final was due to end.

"John was Ulster Bank manager at Dublin Airport," Dr Mick told Seamus McRory in 'The Road to Croke Park', McRory's book of Great GAA Personalities was published back in 1999.

"He succeeded in persuading the pilot to delay the flight until I arrived. Slipping a pair of trousers over my refereeing gear in the taxi I arrived at the airport, happily thanked John and was in the plane at 3.30pm. Over the Atlantic I heard that Galway had won the senior game. When I arrived in New York, I showered and quickly togged in nine hours after the match!"


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