GAA Football

Ballyholland mourns loss of two stalwarts

Paddy Savage served as club secretary for 18 years 
Cahair O'Kane

ARMED with a pint of Guinness, a barrowful of stories and a love of the GAA, there was no better seat in Ballyholland club than the one beside Paddy Savage.

Paddy played on the club’s teams that won an intermediate championship in 1994 and lost a junior final in ’87, and was a MacRory Cup winner with the Abbey in 1982.

His service to the Harps extended right up until last Monday night, just days before he died suddenly after a short illness. He had served as club secretary for 18 unbroken years.

And while he gave so much of his time to the local community, one of his greatest loves was to travel to Dingle for two or three breaks a year.

A fluent Irish speaker, Paddy fell in love with the place while there studying his degree in Irish, and every Christmas he would land down and immerse himself into the Gaeltacht society.

“He loved the Ó Sés and Maurice Fitzgerald. He could tell you everything about Kerry. He would have known Paidi Ó Sé as PO,” said Mick John Keenan, who served as club treasurer alongside Paddy through his whole tenure as secretary.

“He’d always text you at night saying ‘there’s now 29 All-Ireland medals in this pub’ or whatever. He knew everything about it.

”He never raised his voice at a committee meeting, he was always a voice of reason. A very calm, relaxed man, and a great man for one-liners who could have defused anything. He could always tell a story and tell a joke.”

It’s been a tough week for the Ballyholland GAA community as they also lost another stalwart in Mrs Rita Sands.

Her son Kieran, who died suddenly in 1995, had managed the club’s one and only county minor winning championship team, and it was his mother who washed the jerseys and fed the team.

After each wash, the yellow and green would have hung from the line in numerical order. And on the day of a final right up through underage, that team arrived at her home and was fed soda bread, wheaten, apple tart and buns.

Mrs Sands, who would have been 90 in January, continued to sell lotto tickets right up until the week before her death.

Ballyholland is a lesser place for their absences.

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