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Former Chairman Joe Jordan celebrates big birthday

July 27, 2015

Family members, relatives and friends of former Armagh’s County Chairman Joe Jordan staged a surprise 70th birthday celebration in his honour at Hughes’s in Middletown. Organised by his wife Sadie and  children Paula, Adrian, Louise and Fionualla in the previous weeks, local Parish Priest Fr Sean Moore, friend Gabriel Mallon and Peter Makem led the tributes to one of Armagh GAA’s  greatest ever servants.

Fr Moore told the large gathering that Joe was an exemplary figure as a parish worker, helping in fund raising  and in organizing car parking on Sundays and other occasions, and was always available to give of his time when called upon. Gabriel Mallon expressed his appreciation of Joe’s boundless and active interest in history and how they had worked together with others in the local Tynan and Middletown Historic Society and the publication of the recent Songs and Poems. But they also worked on the history of the roads, railways and canal in the wider region and a major work which involved tracing the earliest settlers from 3000BC through the history of the farming of the land and the plantations.

Peter Makem said that Joe’s ability as an historian, and deep knowledge of local history gave him a very wide perspective on human nature and the way people interact and this had a lot to do with his leadership qualities.  As well, his forty years involvement in the administration of club football in Armagh as a delegate and official at divisional and county level gave him a totally thorough insight in the football scene and its personalities.

These two factors when brought together made him exceptionally well placed to take on the role of County Chairman when elected in 2001 at the opening years of Armagh’s golden age.

Peter recalled what he termed Joe’s outstanding leadership qualities which had perfectly rose to the challenge of the times, a man totally rooted in the GAA with a lifetime of active participation.

“Every chairman brings specific gifts to the job.  Joe Jordan’s great gift and great contribution to Armagh Football was his sheer diplomatic skills in unifying the entire Armagh drive for ultimate success. It must be remembered that Armagh were the first county to create a comprehensive support structure to help with the overall administration of the needs of a county senior team. Every county in Ireland has now adopted this system, and Joe was the first to make it work. At a time when many people were bringing different gifts to the overall project of creating an All-Ireland winning team, he had the rare ability to make each feel important and in  deflating tensions before they grew. He was not a man of loud gestures or one to assert his authority, but a leader who saw the big picture as his guiding star, and kept this big picture flowing smoothly throughout the historic year of 2002 and the period of the other national titles won in his term, the U-21 and National League and several Ulster championships.

“At the Banquet in the City West following the All-Ireland victory, Joe was seen at his very best as a leader of the people. His speech brought everything back to the grass roots of the Association in Armagh, when he declared that the Sam Maguire also belonged to all those who kept the club and county scene alive down the ages, the people who lined out the fields, collected at the gates, washed the jerseys, drove the players to matches, the club delegates, the team managers, the referees, the local bandsmen, the fund raisers,-  their names are all on this Sam Maguire cup of 2002, he told that unforgettable victory celebration”.

Makem concluded by wishing  him a happy 70th  birthday, and stated that Joe, with the support of Sadie and their children, could rest assured that he had led the people of his county to their greatest ever heights, and had crowned forty years of service with the creation of All-Ireland memories that would never die in Armagh.

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