SEVERAL hundred mourners from the world of sport, farming and politics, paid their respects at the funeral of well-known former Limerick hurler, John McDonogh, who has been remembered as “a pure gentleman”.
The Ballysimon native was a prominent figure in various aspects of life in Limerick including the GAA and farming.
He was a member of the Limerick hurling team that won the 1958 All-Ireland minor hurling title, and also played senior hurling for Limerick between 1963 and 1970.
A former student of St Munchin’s College, he played club hurling for St Patrick’s in the city before moving to Bruree where he also played hurling with the local club.
Former Limerick senior hurler, Pat Hartigan, played with John in 1968, 1969 and 1970 and said he was “indebted” to the man who was often “the unsung hero” playing in the corner back position. “He was every bit as good a player back then as Stephen, his son, was when he was playing at his best,” Pat said this week in a tribute to the late hurler.
Pat recalled joining the Limerick senior panel at the tender age of 18 and having the support in the full back position of John who was 10 years his senior. “He was very much a father figure to me,” he explained.
John, he said, used to do an “awful lot of that heavy lifting” and in a lot of cases put Pat’s game before his own for the betterment of the team.
Pat Hartigan went on to win five consecutive All-Star awards as well as a senior All-Ireland title in 1973. John, he noted, was “instrumental” in his success having afforded him the freedom to play the hurling he wanted to, in his early career. “Nobody realises the amount of work that John McDonogh got through playing for Limerick,” he continued.
“John McDonogh was, at all times, doing the important things well which was minding his area, minding his players, protecting everybody around him and putting his own body on the line to do that. I got a lot of the credit for the great work he did.”
Although he didn’t get to taste All-Ireland success at senior level with the team of ‘73, John had struck up great friendships with the players during his earlier hurling days. These life-long friendships were evident at his funeral mass in Bruree on Saturday and at the removal on Friday night in Ballingarry where members of the famous ‘73 team including Pat Hartigan, Jim O’Brien, Joe McKenna, Eamonn Grimes, Bernie Hartigan, Jim Hogan, Jim Allis, Eamonn Rea, Phil and Richie Bennis, Frankie Nolan and Sean Foley all paid their respects.
Team-mates from his earlier inter-county career, PJ Keane and Paddy Cobbe (captain of the ‘58 team), were also present.
Close family friends, JP and Noreen McManus and their family were present to offer their condolences along with the McDonogh’s neighbour in Howardstown, horse trainer, Enda Bolger.
John’s eldest son, Stephen, followed his father into the corner back position on the Limerick senior team in the 1990s and was supported at the funeral by many of his team-mates from the 1994 and 1996 All-Ireland finals including Mike Houlihan and Dave Clarke. “A lot of the lads used to regularly visit Cooleen House where John McDonogh farmed with Stephen,” Pat Hartigan recalled. “They regularly used to meet there after matches on a Monday for tea, to go though the pluses and the minuses of the game. John played a very central part in giving his views. If you look at the funeral on both Friday and Saturday, that in itself speaks volumes about the man, John McDonogh.”
John’s farming interest saw him take a keen interest in the annual Limerick Show where he held the titles of chairman and president. Current chairman of the Limerick Show, Cllr Leo Walsh, described him as “the back bone” of the event down through the years. “The contribution that Eileen and John gave was fantastic. He had Limerick Show at heart. He was a pure gentleman. No one would say no to John McDonogh.”
The funeral mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bruree was celebrated by John’s brother-in-law, Bishop William Lee of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. Bishop Lee was assisted by 18 priests on the altar including local parish priest, Fr Desmond McAuliffe. John died peacefully in the loving care of the staff of Milford Care Centre on September 12 aged 71.
Members of Bruree and St Patrick’s GAA clubs formed a guard of honour as the coffin of the late Mr McDonogh - draped in the Limerick GAA jersey and the club jerseys of Bruree and St Patrick’s - was carried from the church. Mr McDonogh was laid to rest at Templemary cemetery which is situated on the grounds of the McDonogh family home in Howardstown. John McDonogh is survived by his wife Eileen, sons Stephen and Jim and daughter Dianne.