Gerry O’Malley – A truly great Rossie

The death has taken place of one of Roscommon’s greatest ever GAA players and personalities, Gerry O’Malley, who passed away at the James Connolly Memorial Hospital Blanchardstown on Tuesday morning this week after an illness. Aged 89, Gerry O’Malley will be remembered as one of the greatest players ever to play football for Roscommon but his many friends and those who knew him well will say that hurling was his first love.

 A native of Brideswell, Gerry O’Malley was on the Roscommon senior football team at 18 and he played from 1947 to 1964 on the Roscommon football team and he played in the All-Ireland final in 1962 when Roscommon were beaten by Kerry. Gerry was captain of Roscommon that day and had to retire injured early in the second half of that game. Gerry was chosen as the footballer of the year by a panel of national GAA journalists in 1961.

  Gerry realised his dream of winning an All-Ireland medal when he led Roscommon to victory against Warwickshire in the All-Ireland junior hurling final at St. Coman’s Park in 1965. Incidentally Henry Shefflin’s father Henry senior was on the Warwickshire team that day. Gerry often said afterwards that it was one of the proudest moments of his career.

  Indeed Gerry O’Malley was one of the very few players who played Railway Cup hurling and football in the same year, which is a feat that will probably never be equalled again in Connacht.

  Gerry O’Malley worked as an agricultural instructor and he lived in Swords in Co. Dublin for most of his life and while he was involved with a number of Dublin club teams over the years his passion for Roscommon GAA never waned and indeed he travelled to games in Roscommon on a regular basis for several decades.

 RTE radio commentator Brian Carthy was a personal friend and they travelled throughout the country to many games over the years too.

  One of the proudest days of his life came in 2013 when he was in the Hogan Stand in Croke Park to see his beloved St. Brigid’s club lift the All-Ireland title in dramatic fashion. Indeed Gerry shed tears that evening as his home club reached the top of the club football tree.

  Speaking to friends on Tuesday, Gerry O’Malley was described to me as a brilliant competitor on the field of play. Physically strong, with massive levels of energy, and a huge will to win. Veteran GAA commentator Sean Og O’Callaghan described Gerry as the best footballer he had ever seen in a book he wrote, which was a huge compliment to his prowess. Gerry also served as a President of Roscommon GAA and those who were lucky enough to have seen him in action say that not only was he was one of Roscommon’s greatest, but of the greatest players ever to play the game.

  Gerry O’Malley is survived by his wife Mary and sons Niall and Conor and three grandchildren, many other family members and a huge circle of friends, neighbours and colleagues. May he rest in peace.