Armagh GAA legend Gene Morgan R.I.P.

June 22, 2010

It was not only Orchard Gaels but the entire GAA world that was saddened by the news of the passing of one of the counties finest exponents of the game Gene Morgan. Gene known as “the man with the golden hands”, was aged 84 when he died leaving behind a litany of fond memories of him not alone being an outstanding footballer but that of a character whose wit wisdom and footballing knowledge will forever be steeped in the history and folklore of his native Crossmaglen.

Parochial to the last Gene was a very proud Ranger who captained Crossmaglen to an Armagh SFC triumph in 1947, beating Armagh Harps in the final before going on to greater things with Armagh and Ulster. Gene was part of the famous Orchard full-back line Morgan, Bratton and McKnight and he gave an exhibition of defensive greatness in the 1953 All-Ireland against Kerry with his inimitable fielding and judgement unerring. In 1954 Gene was selected on the Ireland team to take on the Combined Universities in what must be looked upon as a fore runner to the current All-Star system and it was the highest recognition available for a player while the series run from 1950 to 1960.

Gene was delighted to have lived to see his club and county adorn the All-Ireland stage at senior, u-21 and minor levels especially when the Morgan footballing legacy was carried by his nephews and grandchildren in those glory days for Armagh football.

Gene was married to Betty (nee Feenan), who predeceased him in 1986, and is survived by his sons Brendan, Jim and Aidan and his daughters Mary, Ailish and Rose, as well his brothers Brian and John and sisters Maura, Kathleen, Annie, Margaret and Jeanette.

The mass turnout of people from far and wide at both wake and funeral is testimony to the very high esteem in which the deceased was held. The footballing greats who have gone before Gene will be regaled in song and story now that he has joined them. Never one to miss the opportunity of throwing in the quip even on his last, the anointing priest told Gene that Eugene was the patron Saint of Derry to which he replied it could have been worse, it could have been Tyrone.

This old Irish blessing is a fitting finale to send one of Crossmaglen’s finest on his final journey

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat

Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl

Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh

Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna

Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,

Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam Dilis