Northern Ireland

Tributes paid to GAA legend Dan McCartan, part of ‘heroic generation’ of Down footballers

The triple All-Ireland winner has died aged 84, and has been praised for his “intense love” of Gaelic games.

Dan McCartan at the funeral of former Down player Leo Murphy
Dan McCartan, pictured at the funeral of former Down player Leo Murphy in 2017.

GAA All-Ireland winning Down player Daniel McCartan will be remembered as a “footballing legend” following his death at the age of 84.

Originally from the Burren area outside Newry, he was just 19 when he was part of the Down squad that lifted the Sam Maguire trophy for the first time in 1960, and they celebrated a second All-Ireland victory the following year, and again in 1968.

His brother James was also part of the squad.

In the course of his career, Daniel also won eight Ulster Senior Championship medals and three National League titles among other honours.

The great Down team of 1960: Kevin O'Neill, second from right back row, has revealed the tricks Peter McDermott taught them. Front row, l to r: Eamon McKay, Patsy O'Hagan Paddy Doherty, Kevin Mussen (captain), George Lavery, Tony Hadden, and Brian 'Breen' Morgan. Back row, l to r: James McCartan, Joe Lennon, Jarlath Carey, Leo Murphy, Dan McCartan, Sean O'Neill, Kevin O'Neill, and Pat Rice.
The Down team of 1960, with Dan McCartan (back row, fourth from right).

Outside of GAA, Daniel was a dentist, whose surgery was based on the Andersonstown Road in west Belfast.

In the later stages of his GAA career, he joined Carryduff GAC, who said they were “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of the “footballing legend” whose son also went on to become a Down hero.

“There is no doubt that Dan passed on his fiercely competitive spirit and intense love of our Gaelic sports to his son, our esteemed committee member Mark, who also won an All-Ireland medal for Down in 1991,” a spokesperson said.

Mickey Cole, Peter Rooney and Dan McCartan look over the Irish News file from September 22, 1968 - the day they helped Down to a third All-Ireland title that decade. Picture by Mal McCann
Dan McCartan (right) with Mickey Cole and Peter Rooney looking over the Irish News from September 22, 1968 - the day they helped Down to a third All-Ireland title that decade. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

“He has passed the baton on to the next generation in Carryduff GAC. Our club will be forever grateful for his immeasurable contribution and we are hugely proud to call him one of our own.”

They added: “We extend our deepest sympathies to his partner Betty, his son Mark, daughter-in-law Joan, grandsons Daniel, Seán and Ross, and to the entire McCartan family.”

Former Carryduff GAC member Kieran Swail said in a Facebook post: “On and off the pitch Dan was a leader, motivator, and he influenced so many of us as we grew up with the club.”

In a statement on Sunday a Down GAA spokesperson said: “Dan made a difference to the lives of many, those whom he played with and those whom he would go on to coach, he was a passionate and proud Down man, who at all times gave of his best in any task that he undertook.

“The present generation of Down footballers are inheritors of a great tradition that began with men like Dan McCartan, indeed a wonderful legacy, in Club and in County, has been left by a great man.”

Dan is also remembered as an advocate of GAA handball, which he continued to play well into his latter years.

South Down Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard said in an X post: “Thoughts & prayers across Down and much further afield are with the entire McCartan clan at this sad time. Dan will be fondly remembered by all where Gaelic games are played and where the red & black is worn.”

South Belfast SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said in a post: “Profoundly sad to hear of the passing of Dan McCartan, a legend of Carryduff and Down and alongside his brother James, one of the heroic generation who brought Sam Maguire North for the first time.

“My condolences to the entire family circle. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”