GAA Football

Derry GAA mourns the loss of 'pivotal figure' Mick Gribbin

Mick Gribbin (front left) with his five brothers and the Sam Maguire in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin after Derry won the All-Ireland SFC title in 1993 

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Cahair O’Kane looks back at the career of Mick Gribbin, of the famous Derry and Newbridge clan, who died yesterday at the age of 86...

DERRY GAA is once more mourning for the Gribbin family following the death of Mick on Tuesday.

One of the six famous Newbridge brothers that played for the Oak Leaf county through the 1940s and 50s, Mick - as he was best known - won a Lagan Cup with the county in 1952, and a McKenna Cup two years later, beating Armagh in the final.

He was also centre-half-back on the Derry team that reached the All-Ireland junior football final in 1950 and graduated to the senior ranks, where he featured at right half-back on the team that blazed a relative trail in the 1955 Ulster Championship.

Derry had enjoyed limited success prior to that year but would beat Tyrone and Armagh to reach their first final since 1921. Although they lost to Cavan, it was a run that would lay the foundations for the 1958 team that reached the county’s first All-Ireland final. The team that year contained Mick, Roddy, Owen and Hugh Francis Gribbin.

The smallest of the clan, Mick was perhaps best noted for his incredible technique in kicking ‘50s’. Despite his relative stature and the old heavy ball, it was a familiar sight to see him deliver the ball over the bar in the green and white.

His Derry career was cut short by injury in the mid-1950s, but he remained an avid supporter and watched as his brothers Roddy, Owen and Hugh Francis play in the All-Ireland final of 1958.

It gave him enormous delight to see Derry finally win Sam Maguire some 35 years later - not least because they beat Cork in the decider on September 19, 1993 - his 63rd birthday. The picture at the top of the page shows the six brothers together with the trophy in the Shelbourne Hotel that day. As birthdays go…

Mick Gribbin, who was born in 1930 and was 86 at the time of his passing, was also a multiple Derry senior club championship winner with the Sean O’Leary’s club.

On numerous occasions, the six brothers togged out together. Mick played for years with his siblings Roddy, Hugh Francis, Henry, Willie (RIP) and Owen (RIP) during a prolific spell for Newbridge, who won three county titles in the 1940s and another two in the 50s.

He was a key figure in coaching at underage level within the county during the 1980s and 1990s, and also served on the county board during that spell.

Mick Gribbin was involved in coaching Gaelic games until he retired as principal of Anahorish Primary School, a role which he held for many years and in which he helped mould generations of young Newbridge footballers before he stepped down.

He was part of the four-man Derry management team that took the county to an All-Ireland minor title in 1989, joining up with John Joe Kearney, Patsy Forbes and Willie Hampson.

He further coached the county’s U21 team in the early 1990s and was in that role when the county enjoyed their greatest success at senior level in ’93.

His death follows the passing of his brother Owen, who was described as “an icon of Derry football”, last November. Mick is survived by his wife Bridie and nine children, and is predeceased by sons Peter and John, and siblings Willie, Owen, Mary, Kathleen and Philomena. He will be laid to rest on Thursday at St Trea’s Church, Newbridge after requiem mass at 1pm.

A spokesperson for Derry GAA last night said that the county was saddened to hear of the loss of a dedicated servant of Gaelic games: “Like his entire family, Mick Gribbin dedicated much of his life to Gaelic games.

“He was a fine player, a master coach and a pivotal figure in developing Gaelic football in Derry from the late 80s onwards. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gribbin family and all the Gaels of Newbridge.

"Ar dhéis Dé go raibh a Anam.”

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