IT is something of the measure of the man that on a cold January evening so many of his playing associates travelled from all parts of the county to play in a charity match at Clann Eireann last Saturday night as a tribute to Kieran McGurk.
One could well have expected the participating clubs to be keen to support the game. The Highmoss players that Kieran led to championship success and the Clann Eireann team that he managed to an Armagh intermediate title were delighted to pay tribute to Kieran who was a true leader at both clubs.
However, it was the fact that Kieran’s colleagues from his county playing days had no hesitation in travelling the length of the county to take to the field on a frosty evening that really showed the esteem in which Kieran is held throughout Armagh.
Former county stars included Benny Tierney, Paul McGrane, Gerard Houlihan, Neil Smyth, Jarlath Burns, Gerard Reid, Diarmuid Marsden, Cathal O’Rourke and Damien Horisk.
Time may well have taken its toll on these veteran footballers and there were a few jibes about grey hair, the need for wide angled lenses and some speculation as to whether the jerseys had shrunk. However the large crowd was treated to an hour of great entertainment, with the players putting on a good show and demonstrating that an abundance of talent can more than make up for any loss in speed.
Perhaps the star of the show was Benny Tierney who showed he still had the reflexes by pulling off a superb save. For the final quarter Kieran McGurk’s brother James took on the goalkeeping duties allowing Benny to move into full forward and within seconds this move had paid off.
Unselfishly Ger Houlihan set Benny up and he dispatched the ball low and hard to the corner of the net. With the confidence high, Benny stepped up when Neil Smyth was hauled down in the square and crashed a penalty past the keeper possibly as well as master penalty taker Kieran McGurk had ever done. Of course with Benny, showboating after the goals was the order of the day.
After the match players and spectators retired to the Clann Eireann club for a warm welcome of hot soup and sandwiches and a fair bit of reminiscing on the good old days.
At the function a cheque for over two thousand pounds was presented to the McGurk family for their chosen charity of the StrongBones Children’s Charitable Trust. The Clann Eireann club and all the participants must be commended on their efforts.
The Family of the late Kieran McGurk, including his wife Geraldine and children Ciara and Ryan, wish to express their most sincere thanks to Clann Eireann GFC, for organising and hosting last Saturday’s charity football match in a wonderful tribute to Kieran.
Special thanks to all the players from both the Clann Eireann and Sarsfields football clubs, who together with a selection of former Armagh county players made the evening both enjoyable and memorable. Sincere thanks also to all those who attended and supported the event and for contributing so generously to our chosen charity, “StrongBones Children’s Charitable Trust” and to Clann Eireann for providing the entertainment and refreshments afterwards.