PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST Joe Corcoran RIP
THE term ‘great’ should never be used lightly! Certainly in the case of Joe Corcoran it barely does justice to one of the greatest natural talents the game of Gaelic football has ever seen.
It was with deep regret and sadness we learned of Joe’s death. Our last meeting was at the unveiling of the memorial to the late Gardai John Morley and Henry Byrne in Loughglynn. We said our goodbyes and promised to meet up in Ballina for a meal and a chat in the future.
Alas, it wasn’t to be as his untimely passing has taken away a revered figure that was known and respected the length and breadth of the country and beyond.
When Joe Corcoran was in his pomp, there was literally no one to touch him.
Blessed with pure natural talent, he was brilliant off either foot.
Joe played in an era when free-kicks were taken off the ground. Unlike the present time, the ball used then was made of leather and became very heavy when it absorbed water.
It didn’t matter to Joe as invariably you could chalk down a point when he stepped up to take a free-kick.
Blessed with beautiful balance and dexterity, he cut a graceful figure when in full flight.
His solo-runs were technically brilliant as he kept the ball close to his body when carrying out the skill introduced to Gaelic football by a fellow Mayo man, the late Seán Lavin.
He was a central figure during many of the classic confrontations between Mayo and Galway in the sixties.
It’s a great pity that many of Joe’s greatest ever games were rarely covered on television due to the fact the medium was still in its infancy when Joe was in his prime.
However, the late and great Micheál O’Hehir had a great love and affinity with Joe. He and his wife Mary had a holiday home in West Mayo and, as a result, they met him regularly.
It was Micheál that christened him ‘Jinkin Joe’ a name that encapsulated his brilliant movement and skill.
Joe was to Gaelic football what Ronaldo is to the game of soccer now.
When he was at his brilliant best, every Mayo youngster tried to emulate the number 12 from Ardnaree.
He led the scoring charts in Ireland for many years. He was Mayo’s leading scorer with 20 goals and 358 points until Conor Mortimer surpassed his achievement in 2012.
However, during Joe’s career, the game was of sixty minutes duration and the ball was much heavier than it is today.
Joe has been revered in song; Gerry Guthrie and ‘Paddy Joe’ have recorded songs to mark his magnificent contribution to football, and to Mayo football, in particular.
When Joe finished playing football he returned to the game of golf, a game he had played earlier on in his career. He achieved a scratch handicap which is quite remarkable in all the circumstances.
He also reached the semi-final of the West of Ireland Championship and was only beaten at the 18th by former Walker Cup player Garth McGimpsey (Bangor).
When Joe lost his beloved wife, Renee, some years ago, he never quite recovered from her huge loss. They were inseparable in life, and in golf, and he was very reliant on her.
His great loss will be sorely felt by everyone lucky enough to have known him.
However, his daughters Mary (Doherty) in Ballina, Catherina (Carlette) in the USA, son Joseph in Ballina, and other relatives and friends will miss him most of all.
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh sé.
Quando ullum invenient param
(When shall we look upon his like again?)