Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Pandemic prevents community support for grieving families

In a close-knit community such as Crossmaglen, and particularly the local Cross Rangers GFC, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic was felt ever more keenly as two lifetime club stalwarts were led to rest without the usual guaranteed community display of support afforded to bereaved families.

The families of Patsy Kieran and Brian Morgan laid their loved ones to rest during the past week, their requiem services restricted to the attendance of just family and close friends.

Those present followed official guidelines of social distancing put in place to help curb the spread of the virus, meaning the standard practice of handshakes expressing condolence, sympathetic hugs and warm words of comfort were not permitted.  In what is already a difficult time for bereaved relatives and friends, the surreal situation prompted by the current coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly exacerbated their sorrow.

In a statement, Crossmaglen Rangers GFC paid tribute to the lifelong contribution made to the club by both Patsy and Brian and expressed regret that they were unable to get “the send-off they both truly deserved”.

“It has been a sad week in the club with the huge loss of two former players who will be forever remembered as two of the greatest players who have ever donned the black and amber, Patsy Kieran and Brian Morgan,” the club said.

Crossmaglen Rangers GFC provided the following obituaries: 

Brian Morgan (passed away on Wednesday 18th March)

Brian Morgan was born in September 1937, son of the late James and Mary Morgan and one of eleven children, Fr Pat (RIP), James (RIP), Tommy (RIP), Gene (RIP), John, Maura (RIP), Margaret McConville, Kathleen Eardley, Annie Shannon and Jeanette O’Callaghan. The Morgan family have a long association and affiliation with Crossmaglen Rangers.

In 1953, aged just sixteen years old, Brian lined out for Cross seniors for the first time. The following year Brian, along with Gene Larkin and Eamon Casey, won an Ulster medal with Armagh minors when Armagh beat Down, 2-8 to 0-9. 

In 1956 Brian joined the Armagh senior panel following in his brother Gene’s footsteps. His debut match for Armagh was in 1957 when Armagh beat Tyrone by one point in the Ulster Championship. St Oliver Plunkett Park was officially opened in 1959, two matches were played in the new field that day and Brian was a member of the Armagh team who played Monaghan.

The sixties were glorious years for the club and Brian featured strongly on these teams, winning Armagh Senior Championship medals in 1960, 62, 65, 66 and 67.

As was the norm for a lot of Irish young men on the 60’s, Brian emigrated to England. It was here he met his wife, Ann who was a nurse and from Wales.

They returned to Ireland, bought a house in Cherryvale, Dundalk where they reared their three children Damian, Geraldine and Annette, and is still the family home today.

Brian worked for the Catholic Book Club, which was based in Greenbank, Newry and his job moved to Dundalk when the CBC opened a base there.  A man of great faith, Brian was heavily involved in parish work in Dundalk.

 A lifelong member, supporter and friend of Cross Rangers, Brian never forgot his roots. He travelled near and far to support the Rangers and was exceptionally proud of all the Morgan family connections who played.

Like his sister Margaret, ‘Faith, Family and Football ‘ defined Brian’s life.  

Brian was truly devoted to family, his wife, children and grandchildren and he never forgot his Cross family, religiously visiting his sisters every Wednesday.

Last May, we hosted a gala evening honouring the victorious teams of the sixties and we were delighted that Brian, Ann, daughter Annette, son in law Damian, grandchildren Aaron and Rachel joined us. It was lovely to see old teammates reunited and reminisce about the golden days of the 60s which they all played a part in. Memories were created and photos were taken on that special evening which will treasured by families forever.

We send our sincere condolences to Ann, Damian, Geraldine, Annette, grandchildren, Rachel, Megan, Conor, Emma, Aaron and Aoibheann, brother and sisters and the Morgan family circle.

Patsy Kieran (passed away on Monday 16th March)

Patsy Kieran was born on 20th December 1935. From an early age, it was evident that Patsy was a classy footballer. His footballing career really took off in the early fifties.  1953 was a busy year for him, at just eighteen years old, Patsy lined out at midfield for Armagh against Antrim in the first round of the Ulster Championship. The same year, he captained Armagh minor team who beat Tyrone 2-15 to 3-02 to win the Ulster Minor Championship and he was also captain of the St Pat’s, Armagh team who won the MacRory Cup. He represented Ulster in a school boys league in an All Ireland series.

Following on from their Ulster success, Armagh minors played Mayo in the All Ireland SF, Patsy got injured when the game was only five minutes old. This was a huge blow to the Armagh side and Mayo went on to win the match.

Due to injury, Patsy played no more football in ‘53 in what was a huge year for Armagh, who reached the All-Ireland Final but unfortunately were beaten by Kerry. How it might have been different if Patsy had have played.

1954 saw Patsy and club mates, Gene Morgan and Frank Kernan win an Ulster medal when Armagh beat Cavan in the Ulster Final, 2-10 to 2-05.

The following years were tough, emigration was rife and Cross suffered like so many other clubs. 1957 saw Patsy McConville, Eamon Casey and Tommy Morgan all emigrate. Patsy suffered a number of injuries in these years and his footballing career ended in 1958.

Most of all, Patsy was a family man, devoted to his wife Paula and their three sons Thomas, Paddy and Stephen. Patsy knew first hand how cruel life can be, their only daughter Siobhan died in infancy and he suffered an immeasurable loss in 1991 when Paula died in a road accident leaving a huge void in his and their three sons’ lives.

In later years, Patsy’s life was centred around his grandchildren whom he doted on. He remained all through the years a dedicated and loyal supporter of Crossmaglen Rangers and was delighted with all the successes.

The messages of sympathy that have written and tributes posted about Patsy over the past few days are truly fitting to a life so fulfilled and well lived.  We hope that these tributes give his sons and extended family some comfort in the weeks and months ahead, thinking particularly of his son, Thomas, who we wish continued good health to.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.