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Mayo soccer in mourning after tragic death of Jeremy Dee

SADLY MISSED Jeremy Dee, who was killed in a road traffic accident on Sunday.

Mayo soccer in mourning after tragic death of Jeremy Dee

Michael Commins
Edwin McGreal

BEKAN native Jeremy Dee, one of the best known voices in Mayo soccer circles, has died tragically following injuries received in a road traffic accident on the Cloonfad to Williamstown road on Sunday morning. Jeremy, who covered soccer for Mid West Radio for a number of years, was on his way to a game between the Castlebar Celtic women’s team he coached and Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium when it is understood the Skoda Octavia car he was driving skidded on black ice and hit a wall. Two passengers in the car, including his daughter Ciara, escaped serious injuries.
Jeremy (51) was intimately associated with soccer in Mayo going back to the late 1970s. He was a member of the Ballyhaunis team that won the Tuohy Cup in 1979.
He played with Claremorris in latter years, managed them for a time and then went onto become involved with various Mayo League representative teams. He managed the Oscar Traynor  (Mayo Junior soccer) team and the Mayo U-21 soccer team in the early part of the millennium and was heavily involved with various Mayo underage squads.
In recent years he transformed women’s soccer in the county, first with Ballinrobe Town and more latterly with Castlebar Celtic, whom he led into the inaugural WFAI Women’s National League. He was the national organiser for women’s cup competitions for the FAI and was the head of the FAI delegation for the Irish Women’s U-17 team which went to Macedonia just last month.

‘Sublimely gifted player’
Bekan neighbour Luke Murray, principal of Fairymount NS in Co Roscommon, recalls the qualities Jeremy brought to the field of play. “He was the baby of the soccer team in 1979, just 18 at the time. He had a brilliant mind when it came to soccer. While I played both gaelic and soccer, Jeremy concentrated almost exclusively on soccer. I was goalkeeper with the Ballyhaunis team (soccer) in that era. Jeremy and I were the only two lads from Bekan parish on the team. He was a sublimely gifted player and he even had trials with West Bromwich Albion back then. That's how good he was.
“He never looked out of place in any company when it came to soccer. Ballyhaunis had a really good team back then and we won most honours that were available in Mayo at the time. Jeremy always played a pivotal role. He always had time on the ball which is the hallmark of a great player. Everything was done with purpose and thought. He was a gentleman and was never one for shouting or roaring at anyone on the football field. He was very calm and great reader of the game.”
The Dee family have been central players in the community life of the Bekan region for many years. George, a native of Kerry, met Cathy Morley from Brackloon, Bekan in England. They married and settled in the parish of Bekan where they raised a family of six, four daughters and two sons. One of the family, Siobhan, a teacher in Knock NS, is married to former Knock NS principal Jackie Coyne who is a former chairman of the Mayo Hurling Board, reflecting even further the family's outreach into the sporting psyche of the county.

“The news came as a bombshell to all of us in the parish,” says Luke Murray. “It is a terrible loss. The Dee family have been to the fore in so many aspects of life in this region. They are leaders, not followers. George was one of the most progressive dairy farmers in the area in former times. Later, they established a major mushroom complex. Michael and Georgina are in business in Ballyhaunis. They are very resourceful people. Nobody could say anything but good about the Dee family. The whole area is in shock following this tragic news.”
Jeremy's father George is the National President of the St Joseph's Young Priests Society and is widely known for his support for church related matters countrywide and especially at Knock Shrine where he plays a prominent role, especially during the National Novena each year.
Former President of the FAI, Pat Quigley, worked closely with Jeremy at Milebush Park, Castlebar and in the Mayo League. Jeremy was based at Milebush as the FAS Community Employment Supervisor with responsibility for that ground together with Celtic Park in Castlebar and Manulla and Castlebar Town’s home grounds.
Describing how much hard work Jeremy Dee had put into every aspect of soccer he was involved in, Mr Quigley admitted his loss to the women’s game in the county will be huge.
“A few years ago he could see that women’s or girls’ football in Mayo was not taking off. He pushed a lot of international coaches in Dublin to look at girls from Mayo and a lot of Mayo girls have been capped since,” Mr Quigley told The Mayo News.

‘Shocked and stunned’
“He knew every player in the county by name, their position and he knew their parents. He took great time to talk to parents and talk about how the girls could develop. He represented every group he was involved with over the years with great dignity. He’s an absolutely huge loss to women’s football and to Mayo football generally. Everyone knew him, he would be the first person you’d see at Milebush and all of us are so shocked and stunned by his passing,” added Mr Quigley.
Jeremy Dee is survived by his son Kyle, daughter Ciara, wife Carmel, parents George and Cathy, sisters Pauline, Siobhan, Georgina and Ann Marie, brother Michael, and many more family and friends.
The funeral arrangements for the late Jeremy Dee are as follows: reposing at Donnellan’s Funeral Home, Clare Street, Ballyhaunis on Tuesday evening from 5pm with removal at 8pm to Bekan Church. Mass on Wednesday at 12pm with the funeral proceeding to Bekan cemetery. Family flowers only please.