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Mayo mourns GAA legend PJ McGrath

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JUST REWARD The late PJ McGrath pictured receiving the Hall of Fame award at the Mayo News GAA Club Stars awards back in 2018. Pic: Michael McLaughlin


Michael Commins

THE Mayo man who refereed one of the most famous All-Ireland Football finals in the history of the GAA, died yesterday in St Attracta’s Nursing Home in Charlestown. PJ McGrath from Kilbeg, Claremorris, who would have been 80 next Sunday, had been in declining health for some years.
PJ was the man in charge of the whistle in 1982 when a late goal by Seamus Darby saw Offaly sensationally end Kerry’s bid for the five in a row.  His team of umpires on the day were Tommy Lavelle, Mick Dowd, Pat Connaughton and Mickey Murphy.
A native of Kilmaine, PJ came from a family immersed in the GAA tradition. He retained a great love for Kilmaine all down the years and one of his brothers, Joe, won an All Star with Mayo back in 1979.
He served in various capacities with Mayo GAA, including County Board chairman, and was also on a number of committees at Croke Park over the years. He was among the candidates that contested the Presidency of the GAA back in the 1990s.
PJ was a teacher by profession and spent several years in Claremorris VS before transferring to St Colman’s College when the VS closed down.
Mayo Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary, was among those leading the tributes to PJ McGrath, yesterday evening.
“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of PJ McGrath of Kilmaine and Claremorris. PJ was one of life’s gentlemen. He was a distinguished member of the GAA as a player, a referee and an official at all levels. He served as referee of the famous 1982 All Ireland football final between Offaly and Kerry.
“He was also a dedicated and active member of Fianna Fáil. He served as chair of Mayo Fianna Fáil. I and many more benefited from his generosity of time and spirit and his immense wisdom and experience. I will be forever grateful for that.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Phil and their wonderful family this evening. His legacy is immense, his influence wide and long lasting.”
PJ will be sadly missed by his wife Phil and family, Áine, Padraig, Seamus and Seán, his brothers and sisters, the family circle and many friends.
Funeral arrangements were not available at the time of going to press.