Pat Mullaney: Antrim dual star was 'Battler' on pitch and gentleman off it
PAT Mullaney had the honour of scoring the first ever point at Casement Park.
The west Belfast man was part of an Antrim football team which took on Kerry in front of 20,000 fans at the grand opening of the stadium on June 14 1953.
Nicknamed 'Battler' for his competitive qualities, Pat was a dual star for club and county, winning five Antrim hurling championships with O'Donovan Rossa along with two in football.
He was also member of the Antrim senior hurling team that won the 1959 All Ireland Junior Home hurling final.
Pat's success came despite serving a brief ban from Gaelic games when he was disciplined for playing the 'foreign' game of soccer.
Away from GAA he was also a popular figure in golfing circles in Belfast and built up many friendships during a long career in the Post Office where he finished his career as head of public relations for Northern Ireland.
Pat was born in 1932 in Clowney Street in the Beechmount area of west Belfast, the youngest of 11 children to Robert and Sarah Mullaney.
He left St Paul's school at 14 and started working life as a messenger boy with the Post Office, where he would remain for 43 years.
He filled many roles in the company and knew every street in Belfast, and his death was deeply felt in the Post Office community across the north.
Pat started playing Gaelic games with the Mitchells club in west Belfast but switched at senior level to O'Donovan Rossa GAC, which he would later serve as treasurer and a trustee.
He was a tough, tenacious player in both football and hurling but off the field was described as a gentleman who treated everyone the same.
Pat invariably saw the good in people and they liked him in turn.
Right up to the end, when he had dementia and was being cared for in a home, staff would comment on his old-fashioned, courteous manner.
Pat married Antrim woman Olive Harman in 1960 and they were blessed with four children, but the family was devastated by her premature death from cancer in 1981.
He later found new happiness with marriage to Yvonne Boyle, moving to Balmoral Court opposite Balmoral golf course, but experienced tragedy once again with her death from motor neurone disease.
Throughout these trials Pat displayed the strength and determination he was known for on the GAA field to help his family cope with adversity.
Along with Yvonne he was a keen golfer, having been a member of the Balmoral club for nearly 50 years.
He was heavily involved in its leadership, serving as both president and captain, with Yvonne also lady captain and his son Eamon captain in 2018.
Pat Mullaney died aged 87 after a full life on December 6.
He is survived by his children Deirdre, Conor, Eamon and Grainne, stepdaughter Helen, and grandchildren Laura, Claire, Thomas, Duncan, Mark, Aidan and Niamh.
His months' mind Mass took place at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue yesterday.