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Mayo mourns passing of legend

Sean Rice
TWO-TIME CHAMPION  Eamonn Mongey is pictured last year with the All-Ireland SFC medals he won in 1950 and 1951. Pic: Sportsfile

Mayo mourns passing of Eamonn Mongey

One of Mayo football’s great servants passed away last weekend

Sean RiceSean Rice
THE death of Eamonn Mongey (82) will have been learnt with deep regret by those who remember him as one of the outstanding members of the male side that last won  All-Ireland senior honours for Mayo.
A native of Castlebar, Eamonn’s family was steeped in the GAA. His father was president, vice-president and secretary of  Castlebar Mitchels on different occasions in the early part of the last century, and his brother Finn was also county secretary for a period.
Eamonn was a product of a club that had provided the county with several members of the All-Ireland winning side of 1936. He was too young to contribute in those years, but was influenced by the stature of men like Moclair, Quinn, Kenny and Flannelly.   Eamonn won a county juvenile championship with the club in 1938 and a minor title in 1941. In the prolific forties when the club ruled won six senior titles, Eamonn was a member of four of those teams.
He learned all his football in Castlebar, and much of the skill from his older brothers Finn and Billy. Most of his football was played alongside Josie Munnelly at midfield, a great teacher in the art and understanding of midfield play. He also won a county hurling title with Castlebar in 1945.
He won an interprovincial colleges championship in 1942, and at the age of 16 had his first outing for the Mayo senior team against Roscommon in a Connacht league that replaced the National League which had been suspended because of the War. In 1944 at the age of 19 he was at left corner forward and impressed the selectors sufficiently to be chosen to play at midfield subsequently.
Victories over Roscommon and Cork, who had been all-Ireland champions built belief in the players but that conviction was not transferred to followers. In a league match against Kerry in Tralee in November 1947 Eamonn had to persuade Sean Flanagan to play after the eventual team captain was taken off in a previous game in  London.
Even with Flanagan included in the team they had only fourteen players. Johnny Mulvey, driving one of the hackney cars, and who had previously played with Mayo, was asked to tog out, and Eamonn’s brother Finn, who was county secretary and acting treasurer and manager, was also asked to play.
Having drawn with Kerry, they returned and wrote the famous letter to the County Board, complaining about their handling of the team, and outlining their views on how, with the co-operation of the Board, they could become a serious side. Their views were taken on board and that was the foundation of their two All-Ireland victories in 1950 and 1951. Eamonn also won two National League medals, a Railway Cup medal with Connacht and was selected on two occasions on the Ireland team to play the combined universities.
In 1955 Eamon trained the Dublin based players, but following their defeat by Dublin in the replay of the All-Ireland semi-final Eamonn retired and afterwards for 25 yeas wrote a brilliant weekly article on sport in the Sunday Press.
He told this writer three years ago that Sean Flanagan, the team captain, did not just believe in winning a match or winning a ball, psychologically he wanted to beat his man and show him that he was the better man. It was a feature of the team as a whole. “Anytime we went out we all believed we were better than the players we were marking.”
He was registrar of the High Court in Dublin and had a doctorate in law as well as a degree in public administration. He was also a member of the Rathgar and Rathmines Musical Society.
Three years ago he presented a defribulator to Castlebar Mitchels following a number of sudden deaths of young footballers. He stated on the occasion that his father, uncle and two brothers had died of cardiac events. He himself had six cardiac events over a period of four years and a triple by-pass.
To his wife and family we tender our deepest sympathy.

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