Former GAA star who died in boating tragedy off Inishbofin


Ger Feeney:GER FEENEY, who drowned last Sunday in the Inishbofin island boating tragedy, was a GAA footballer of considerable talent who played more than 70 times for his native Mayo.

Although an All-Ireland senior medal eluded him he won many honours including an All-Ireland minor medal (1971); an All-Ireland under 21 medal (1974) and a Connacht senior medal in 1981. Twice selected as a replacement on the All-Stars selection, his gritty, unstinting performance earned him the Player of the Tour Award in 1975.

A native of the townland of Cortoon, Ballintubber, about six miles south of Castlebar, he was the youngest of three boys and three girls. He showed some of the footballing flair for which he was to later become famous while still practically a toddler smashing a ball around the kitchen with his “citóg” (left foot) smashing glasses in his mother’s sideboard in the process. According to his older brothers, Sean and Christy, Feeney was supremely confident and was insistent even as a youngster that he would one day play in Croke Park.

He first established himself as a colleges player with St Gerald’s College, Castlebar and Ballinafad College. His display in the 1971 All-Ireland final attracted the attention of commentator Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh whose verdict was: “Níl sé mór ach tá sé go han tapaigh.”

Like his two brothers, Ger Feeney played football for Ballintubber captaining teams to county success in intermediate and junior grades. By then an ESB employee, he moved to Castlebar in the 1970s where he linked up with the local Castlebar Mitchels club.

Two of his sons, Alan and Richard now play for his adopted town. One of the games which Ger Feeney had been looking forward to before his untimely death was the county senior final between Castlebar and his native Ballintubber. A nephew, John Feeney will be captaining Ballintubber in that game which is scheduled for October 24th.

Ger Feeney worked for the ESB in Castlebar and earned a reputation as somebody who would always do a favour for people and try never to leave them without power in a blackout or other emergency.

Over the years he gave of his time freely developing new football talent for the Mitchels. In recent years a strong friendship developed between Ger Feeney and the man with whom he died on Sunday, retired businessman Donal McEllin.

They were often together socially and made a number of trips to Inishbofin and other islands, such as Clare and Inisturk, on McEllin’s motor cruiser, Quo Vadis.

Ger Feeney is survived by his wife, Kathleen (nee Cadden), sons Alan, Richard and Dara, daughter, Claire, his brothers, Christy and Sean; sisters, Mary Davis (Wales), Sheila Riches (London) and Mary Lohan (Manulla, Castlebar).

Ger Feeney: born February 24th, 1953; died October 10th, 2010