The Late Georgie O’Callaghan – One of a Kind

Castleisland AFC founder, Georgie O’Callaghan smiling through the pain and the rain as he watched Killarney Celtic defeat Castleisland AFC in the Greyhound Bar KO Cup Final replay at Mounthawk Park in July 2016. Inset: The FAI tribute by Chief Executive, John Delaney. ©Photograph: John Reidy 10-7-2016

The death has occurred of Georgie O’Callaghan, (76) Camp, Castleisland, Co. Kerry. Founder member of Castleisland Soccer Club.

On April 17th. 2018, peacefully, after a short illness bravely borne in the wonderful and loving care of the Palliative Care Team at University Hospital Kerry.

Sadly missed by his loving sister Mary, brother James, brother-in-law Tom, sister-in-law Frances, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and a large circle of friends.

May he Rest in Peace.

Reposing at Tangney’s Funeral Home, Castleisland on Wednesday evening from 4pm to 7pm followed by removal to Castleisland Parish Church.

Requiem Mass on Thursday at 11am. Burial afterwards in Kilbanivane Cemetery, Castleisland. Family flowers only please. Donations in lieu to the Palliative Care Unit, University Hospital, Kerry c/o Tangney’s Funeral Home.

Date Published: Tuesday 17th April 2018. Date of Death: Tuesday 17th April 2018.

FAI Press Release, Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Georgie O’Callaghan RIP

Football Association of Ireland Chief Executive John Delaney has paid tribute to the late Georgie O’Callaghan.

Mr. O’Callaghan passed away on Tuesday morning. He was the founder of Kerry’s Castleisland AFC, and was one of the most well-known and Respected football figures in The Kingdom. “I knew Georgie very well, and counted him as a good friend,” said Delaney.

“Legend is a word that gets thrown about too much, but Georgie was the epitome of one. With over four decades of football experience under his belt in the region, there wouldn’t be many players that didn’t come into contact with him at one point or another. He was a father figure of football in Kerry, and will be sorely missed.”

Georgie will be remembered later this year at a senior international match in the Aviva Stadium.

Georgie O’Callaghan – One of a Kind

Of all the sporting honours bestowed on the late Georgie O’Callaghan, the one contained in the final line of the FAI Press release would be his pride and joy.

And that from a life of honours and tributes which included Papal scrolls and invitations to Áras an Uachtaráin.

The fact that he’ll be remembered at the Aviva Stadium this year at a senior international match is both fitting and a testament to how highly he was and is regarded by the FAI at its most senior level.

A Text from Bernard

I was on my way to Kilkenny on Tuesday morning when I got a text from Bernard Tangney about Georgie’s passing.

The morning was overcast and sullen and it suited the arrival of the brief bulletin. A momentary belt of sunshine soon after seemed completely out of place as the sad fact sunk in.

I spoke to Georgie a couple of weeks ago when I heard he was unwell and he assured me he would be fine and he was delighted with the headway being made on the new pitch here in Castleisland.

The Irony of Life 

The irony of life was never more cruelly applied as in Georgie’s case. He begged and borrowed fields in various parts of the town and surrounding areas to facilitate his teams over the years.

Now, some of his former, under-age players have secured a permanent playing pitch in the heart of the town and one on which the weather won’t have a say.

Georgie’s passing will leave a huge void in under-age sport in Castleisland. Since 1973 he has been organising, with almost military precision, the annual trips to the UK.

Abiding Memories

Generations of youngsters will have abiding memories of meeting the big stars of the game of their eras and trips to Old Trafford were always penciled in.

His long-time friend and UK contact, Fr. David Lupton returned the compliment by bringing teams here.

That’s not to mention the many trips to Dublin for international games at which members of his teams acted as ball boys.

Georgie would fight on his back for the club he had a huge part in founding in 1973.

In that he worked closely with the likes of the late Michael ‘Tappy’ Conway and PJ Luddy – all taken long before their time.

 Gerald Wren’s Field

Their first ‘home’ was in Gerald Wren’s field at the back of where the Stanley Divane Pavilion VW Dealership now stands.

There was a move later on to the field now covered by Castleisland Community College. The irony of it all is that the site at the back of the college is now to become the club’s crowning glory.

The late Castleisland PP, Canon Michael O’Herlihy was a huge supporter of Georgie’s and he went out of his way to secure what became known as The Canon’s Field for the club.

Vespers on Hold 

That field and the accompanying sheds became a solid base for the club for many years through the late 1970s to the early 1990s.

Considered by many as a typical church authoritarian of his time, ‘The Canon’ and Georgie became great friends and it was good for the game here in that period.

Georgie would get quite animated on the sideline at times if things weren’t going well for his team. On one such occasion he let out a string of unparliamentary language and well within earshot of The Canon.

Dressed in the garb of his vocation, prayer book in hand, vespers on hold, he bent in two with a peal of laughter he couldn’t hold that evening at Georgie’s outburst.

Proven Friendship

In the FAI tribute to Georgie, its Chief Executive John Delaney was able to say, with absolute certainty, that he was a friend of his. If he wasn’t he’d know it.

Mr. Delaney proved that friendship several times down through the years.

None more so that when he heard that Georgie was out mowing the current pitch on Limerick Road with an ordinary, hand-pushed lawnmower.

Georgie got a note from headquarters to go and look at a ‘ride-on mower’ and the cost was covered by the FAI – that’s friendship and it meant the world to Georgie.

Unrelenting Determination

Honoured by all and any sports star awards which were held in Castleisland down through the years, Georgie’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed either at Kerry County Council level.

His dogged, unrelenting determination on behalf of the teams in his care won him many awards. But it was toned down to Dedication to Sport on the trophies.

Of all the sportsmen he had seen in his lifetime, the great Kerry footballer, Mick O’Connell stood head and shoulders above all others as Georgie’s hero.

I’ve had suggestions in the course of yesterday that Georgie’s remains should be shouldered through the town by members of his various teams or ‘chicks’ as they became known.

Naming the Field 

I promised I’d pass on the suggestions. And there were hints too about the naming of the new field.

Can it now be called anything other than in memory of the man who did more for the game in Castleisland and in Kerry that anyone else could ever have.

May God be good to him.

– John Reidy – The Maine Valley Post 18-4-2018


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