Fagan, Mickey

Regarded as one of Westmeath's greatest ever dual stars, Castletown-Finea native Mickey passed away on December 23 last after finally losing his battle with MS. The long-time Mullingar resident is survived by his wife Marie, son Martin and daughters Anne, Mary, Yvonne and Una. Martin became the first Irish athlete since John Treacy in 1992 to compete in the Olympic Games marathon in Beijing in 2008.

Mickey was one of the biggest names in Westmeath GAA during the 1960s and 1970s. He played his club football and hurling with Castletown-Finea and Castlepollard respectively, and also represented his county with distinction in both codes.

His footballing talents first came to notice when he helped St. Pat's College, Cavan (where he was a boarder) to back-to-back MacRory Cup wins in 1962 and '63. In the same years, he played minor football for Westmeath and was corner forward on the team which lost the 1963 All-Ireland final to Kerry.

Mickey played his early club football with The Downs before throwing in his lot with the reformed Castletown-Finea club in 1964. If Mickey had stayed with The Downs, he could have won five senior championships, but he never regretted his decision to go back and play for his home club. His finest hour in a Castletown-Finea jersey came in 1976 when he captained them to an intermediate championship final victory over their north county rivals St. Paul's.

His loyalty to his native club was such that he once lined out for them in a league game in Bunbrosna after playing for Westmeath against Tyrone in a National Football League in Omagh earlier in the day.

With the Castlepollard hurlers, Fagan found success easier to come by and featured in their senior championship triumphs of 1961, '65, '66 and '74. At the same time, he lined out for the county hurlers and footballers, with his senior inter-county career spanning over 13 seasons.

"I represented Westmeath in both codes from 1966 to '78. People often ask me how I was able to combine playing for four teams, but I managed because I enjoyed it so much. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't have lasted for the length I did," he told this Yearbook in 2008.

Mickey regarded the 1967 Leinster championship win over Dublin and qualification for the 1969 National League semi-final as the highlights of his Westmeath football career. 

He recalled: "We were very close to making a breakthrough at that time. After beating Dublin in the 1967 championship, we suffered a narrow defeat to Meath who went on to win the All-Ireland that year. We reached the National League semi-final two years later, only to lose to a very strong Kerry team."

Fagan's best performance for the Westmeath hurlers came in the 1975 All-Ireland 'B' home final against Antrim at Croke Park when he scored 0-8 from centre back. He also holds fond memories of Westmeath's defeat of Offaly in the 1967 Leinster championship, which was dubbed the 'Battle of Birr'. "We won the game and the row!" he remembered.

Dubbed 'rubber ball Fagan' by the legendary RTE commentator Michael O'Hehir, Mickey was forced to hang up his boots for good in 1980 due to the onset of his illness. He remained an avid follower of Westmeath GAA and only last November attended a 50th anniversary reunion for the 1963 minor footballers in Mullingar.

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