Gerry O’Neill: One of the exclusive Armagh brotherhood
August 10, 2010
The passing of Gerry O’Neill of Middletown on Tuesday last at the age of 83, marks the departure of another member of that exclusive Armagh brotherhood of 1953, the first senior team from the six counties to reach an All-Ireland final.
Son of former Armagh secretary, PJ O’Neill, he came to footballing prominence as a pupil at St Patrick’s College Armagh when he was part of the first ever All-Ireland Hogan Cup winning team along with his brother the late Fr Brendan O’Neill and his future Armagh senior colleague Dr Pat O’Neill as well as Tyrone greats Iggy Jones and Jim and Eddie Devlin. He and his brother Brendan also held two Mac Rory cup medals, and his younger brother Fergal holds a Mac Rory cup medal as well.
He was perhaps Armagh’s first genuine free taker and began his county career with the 1848 junior team beaten by Dublin in the All-Ireland final. In 1950 he won his first of two Ulster senior championship medals and in 1953 his free taking against Roscommon saw Armagh reach the All Ireland final of that year.
He played his club football with Middletown and served as chairman from 1978 to 1983. He was a team selector in 1974 when Middletown won the Armagh junior championship.
Gerry O’Neill was a teacher and principal in Middletown following the careers of his parents and was a widely respected personality both in sport and education and remained devoted to the GAA all his life in keeping with the proud family tradition. He is predeceased by his wife Carmel and daughter Deirdre and survived by his sons Conor and Ruari, brother Fergal and sister Eithne O’Hare of Milford.
The funeral Mass was celebrated by V Rev Sean Moore PP in St John’s Church, Middletown on Thursday morning last before a packed congregation.
Several of his former colleagues including Frank Kernan, Peter Mc Creesh, Gerry Murphy and Jack Bratten attended the funeral Mass. And so another of the historic team of 1953 departs the scene after Sean Quinn, Mal Mc Evoy, Pat Campbell, Eamonn Mc Mahon, Bill Mc Corry, Gene Morgan and Art O’Hagan.