GAA Football

Fr Sean Hegarty: a true gael of great team spirit

Fr Sean Hegarty
Shaun Mahoney

Former Armagh manager Peter Makem paid tribute to the late Fr Sean Hegarty, who sadly passed away on Sunday.

Fr Hegarty played for Blackwatertown and he was a fine footballer and won an Ulster Minor Championship with Armagh back in 1961 and was regarded as a bright talent by the commentators of the day.

Legendary broadcaster Michael O Hehir described him as 'the Mighty Atom.'

He went to secondary school in St Michael's, Omeath where he was a leading footballer winning a McLarnon Cup medal and afterwards joined the Rosminian order for four years and later worked for Gael Linn.

An opportunity to get involved in Armagh senior football arose in 1974 following a chance meeting with his former school friend Peter Makem, who was working to reorganise the Armagh team at this time.

Maken said his work in helping bring Armagh out of the dark days of the Sixties and early Seventies was invaluable.

“He was a natural people’s person who had a gift of bonding individual players into a unit, into a sense of purpose and this was his particular job at the time,” said Makem.

“His influence in this regard has lasted to this day, and to the end of his life he kept very much in touch with these former players.

“He was at his happiest among them, reflecting on the old times both of his six years as manger in the Eighties and the earlier times of the mid Seventies.”

Fr Hegarty later returned to religious life and was ordained for the archdiocese of Armagh in 1978 by Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich and served as curate in Kildress, Camlough, Ballygawley and Carrickmore and later as PP in Kildress and Lissan.

The lure of Armagh football returned in 1982 when he became manager of the Armagh senior team and took the county to two Ulster finals and two National League Finals.

There they lost but he did manage the team to a rare Dr McKenna Cup in the mid-Eighties with players such as Johnny Corvan, Jim McCorry, Thomas Cassidy, Martin McQuillian and Joe Kernan.

And he also managed the Gaelic football All Stars team in 1988.

He spent his final years in Green Park Nursing Home where he loved hearing and telling of stories of games he was involved in, and he was pleased when old team-mates or players he managed came to visit him.

Fr Hegarty's funeral will take place in St Jarlath's Church, Clonfeacle (Blackwatertown) today at 12 noon, the same church in which he was raised to the priesthood four decades ago.

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