GAA Football

Sad days for Down gaels with passing of Brendan Sloan and Eugene Treanor

Brendan Sloan rises high to claim the ball for Down during the 1968 Ulster Senior Football Championship final against Cavan at a packed Casement Park in west Belfast. Eugene Treanor was also a member of the Down ’68 squad. Picture courtesy of Down County Board PRO Fiona Murphy
 
Tony Bagnall

THE recent days have been sad ones for Down gaels with Brendan Sloan and Eugene Treanor both passing away.

Brendan, who played his club football with Atticall, is the first member of the 1968 All-Ireland winning team to die. The 67-year-old had been ill for a number of months and passed away yesterday morning.

Newry Shamrock’s stalwart Eugene Treanor, a member of the Down ’68 squad, departed this life on Tuesday morning. Everyone who knew the pair were glowing in their praises.

Incidentally, the Down team that defeated the mighty men of Kerry with a 2-12 to 1-13 scoreline in the 1968 All-Ireland final, managed by Gerry Brown and captained by Joe Lennon, was: Danny Kelly; Brendan Sloan, Dan McCartan, Tom O’Hare; Ray McConville, Willie Doyle, Joe Lennon; Jim Milligan, Colm McAlarney; Mickey Cole, Paddy Doherty, John Murphy; Peter Rooney, Sean O’Neill and John Purdy with subs Larry Powell and George Glynn.

That legendary Down great Paddy Doherty, he of the claw-hammer left foot, said of Brendan Sloan,  “There were few as good as Brendan. He was a great fielder of the high ball and there was no dirt in him. He was undoubtedly the best player ever to come out of Atticall.”

On his passing Paddy said: “It was so sad, although I knew he hadn’t been well.”

Mayobridge defender Tom O’Hare, who also shared that 1968 full-back line with Brendan and Dan McCartan, said of the Atticall star: “Brendan was a true Mourne great. He had a heart of corn and sadly in the end it was that big heart that let him down.

“I went up to see him last week in Daisy Hill Hospital and, although he was just after going through a long and serious operation, he was in good spirits,” said Big Tom. I didn’t expect him to go so soon.”

Newry Shamrocks half-forward John Murphy who played in Croke Park on that memorable September Sunday in 1968, said of his Down team-mate: “Brendan was a great catcher and so clean. 

“He didn’t give away unnecessary fouls. He wasn’t a big guy but he was so efficient," he said.

“There was no hassle, no problems with Brendan. He didn’t look for the limelight and as such he was often under-rated - but not by his team-mates.”

Larry Powell, another of that 1968 squad, said: “Brendan was a clean player and a clean fielder. For a corner-back he was one of the game’s finest fielders: “His timing was perfect and his balance was incredible. Brendan was quiet and a perfect gentleman. He didn’t say a lot but when he spoke people listened.”

Powell told an amusing story of the Atticall star: “A few months after Down won the 1968 All-Ireland final, we were playing a friendly match with Offaly in Oxford, England. 

“Offaly had a hard man, Paddy McCormack, who had delivered a couple of heavy tackles on Brendan Sloan," he said.

“The Down corner-back said nothing but when he got the opportunity he kicked McCormack in a tender place. And when Brendan looked around he saw his team-mate Sean O’Neill laughing so much that the tears were streaming down his face.”

Atticall PRO Liam Sloan said the committee and club members were deeply saddened by Brendan Sloan’s death: “Our club is going from strength to strength and we at Atticall appreciate all that Brendan did for our club. 

“He was one of the founder members in 1962. He put the club on the map and was always a great club representative. Brendan was a quiet man who never boasted about his All-Ireland success and played for his county for 12 years.

“In 2009 we held a special night of appreciation for Brendan and all the 1968 team attended. Kerry legend Mick O’Dwyer was also invited and he told everyone how Brendan had kept him scoreless in the final at Croke Park.”

Meanwhile, Eugene Treanor, whose funeral at Newry’s Monks Hill on Thursday drew a huge crowd, passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning. His premature death was a mighty shock to his immediate family of Olivia, Gavin and Eugene. Our thoughts are with them.

Eugene, known to almost everyone as ‘Sparky’, was a Down footballer of some note. He was fast, strong and so determined. He also was a tremendous soccer player who scored many fine goals.

John Murphy who played with him for Down, Newry Shamrocks and with Shamrocks soccer team, said of him: “I first met Eugene in 1964 when we both played in street leagues.

“We went on to win three minor championships with Down and we reached the All-Ireland minor final too but unfortunately there we lost out," he said.

“Sparky was totally fearless. A top player. He always gave 100 per cent and he was a man you would always have wanted on your shoulder in the trenches.”

This was a sad week for Down football. Brendan and Eugene, rest in peace. You will both be fondly remembered.

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