January 14, 2005
The Late Matty Connolly
The sudden death of Matty Connolly, Ardmayle, Cashel, secretary of the Mid Tipperary GAA Board, shocked GAA followers, not only in the division but throughout the county and further afield.
Aged 66, Matty has been secretary of the board since 1991, having succeeded the late Tom O'Hara to a position also formerly held by his father-in-law, the late Paddy Ryan, 'Sweeper' of Moycarkey.
Matty had been a life-long supporter of the GAA. He served his club, Boherlahan-Dualla, as a player and administrator, twice holding the secretarial role from 1974 to 1981 and again in 1987 before being elected the Mid position in 1991.
His early years hurling was with Suir View with whom he won junior honours in 1959. With the introduction of the parish rule, he then committed himself to Boherlahan-Dualla, representing the club regularly on the playing fields.
He also represented the club at Mid Board level prior to being elected Mid secretary. He was also the club's representative on the Boherlahan Sportsfields Committee.
Apart from hurling, his other great interest after his family was in Fianna Fail. He was a staunch supporter of the party and served as chairman of the local cumann.
In all that he did Matty gave one hundred per cent, carrying out his duties with unfailing courtesy, cheerfulness and with the utmost integrity. His popularity and the esteem in which he was held was clearly demonstrated by the huge turnout at the removal of his remains to Boherlahan Church. Leading lights in the GAA from throughout the county and from outside it were in attendance as his coffin, draped in the colours of the Boherlahan-Dualla club and the Mid Board, and escorted from the hurling field by a Guard of Honour representative of GAA bodies and parish organisations, made the journey from Cashel to the church via Ardmayle.
The patron of the GAA, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, recited prayers at the reception of the remains by Fr Joe Egan PP.
The church was filled to overflowing for the Cemcelebrated Requiem Mass, after which the cortege passed by Boherlahan hurling field en route to Ardmayle cemetery, his final resting place.
At the graveside, an oration was given by John Devane, who shared the secretaryship of the Boherlahan-Dualla club for much of the 1970s and 1980s with Matty.
Matty's untimely passing is a great loss to the GAA in Tipperary but it is especially so to his wife, Ann, sons Peter, Pat and Liam, daughter, Annmarie, his grandchildren,sisters and a wide circle of relatives and friends, who are left to mourn a devoted husband and father who placed them above all his many interests.
In a graveside oration, Boherlahan-Dualla club official John Devane said:
"A chairde go leir, I am honoured to be asked to speak here today about the late Matty Connolly. It is an honour steeped in sadness because I, no more than anyone else, never expected the sudden passing of such a well known and liked character. I have known Matty since the 1970s when he was club secretary in 1982 and from then on we have been in regular contact as I sought advice or match or fixture information or he would ring with the usual 'I won't keep you a minute...''
Going back to his early days, Matty was born and grew up in Ardmayle, a place steeped in traditions of friendliness and neighbourliness and he and many others kept up great friendships over the years and naturally hurling became very much part of their activities. Suir View was the local team and Matty played with them in the fifties. Their great achievement was winning the Mid No 2 Junior hurling championship in 1959, defeating Inch in the final.
With the amalgamation of the three clubs in the parish under the parish rule in 1961 to form the present club, Boherlahan-Dualla, Matty played for many years, apart for a short time in England, and he continued to play into the 1970s. In 1974, Matty began his administrative career, succeeding Philly Heffernan as club secretary. He continued in the role until 1981 and stepped back in for a short spell in the late eighties. He was heavily involved in the Sportsfield developments at that stage also.
Matty was now also representing the club on Mid Board and Fixtures and it was no surprise to see him contest and win the vacant Mid Secretary's position in 1991 following the death of Tom O'Hara. Matty was following the footsteps of his father-in-law, the great Paddy 'Sweeper' Ryan of Moycarkey, who held the position for many years. From then Matty served the Division and all the clubs with distinction and understanding, always available to answer a call or query. As Divisional secretary Matty was also a member of County GAC, and here, over many long hours, he came into his own, organising games and trying to get the best deal for the clubs. He had a great rapport with Gaels throughout the county, and could meet and greet wherever he went.
Away from the GAA, Matty's great interest was politics, and in particular the fortunes of the Fianna Fail party. He was a local organiser and served as Cumann chairman up until recent years. He could be regularly seen on the canvas trail, in particular with his great friend, Dr Sean McCarthy, and at Count Centres and even the occasional Ard Fheis. Indeed an election was, just like a game, an excuse for a debate or argument!
A lifelong member of the Pioneer Association, Matty enjoyed life and was never in a hurry to leave, whatever the function. Many people here would have had reason to visit the house in Ardmayle and everyone was made welcome by Matty and Ann. The teapot was always at the ready, and many's the five minutes call became an hour or more discussion with tea and some of Ann's lovely cakes or tarts.
Matty had many friends, and I think it is appropriate to single out Mickey Ryan as they travelled far and wide together. Indeed, it is fitting that Mickey was on the phone trying to contact Matty. He enjoyed the game of cards, as much for the craic and banter as anything else
The Gaels of the Division and County will miss him and our sympathies go to all who have worked with him over the years. But Matty's greatest loss is to his own family, son Liam and son-in-law Noel have contributed in particular as referees, while his wife, Ann, coming from the famous Ryans of Moycarkey has always had a deep interest in the games and the people.
To Ann, daughter Ann-Marie, sons Peter, Pat and Liam, son-in-law Noel, daughter-in-law Deirdre and Trish, grandchildren David, Niamh and Matthew, sisters, mother-in-law and all his many relatives and friends we tender out deepest sympathy.
Ar dheis lamh De go raibh a anam uasal.
Courtesy of the Tipperary Star
14th January 2005
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