The late Cathal Flynn, who passed away last night, pictured at the 2018 Leitrim GAA Supporters Club launch in Croke Park Picture: Willie Donnellan
Leitrim GAA is in mourning for the second time in a matter of months with the news that the legendary Cathal Flynn, a hero to generations of Leitrim people all over the world, passed away peacefully but suddenly on Thursday evening.
The passing of the legendary Leitrim star comes just a couple of months after the passing of his former teammate Packie McGarty, a pairing as synonymous as Galway's Terrible Twins in the annals of Connacht football harking back to a glorious era for the county when Leitrim contested four Connacht Senior Football Championship Finals in a row.
Predeceased by his son Gary, Cathal is survived by his wife Terri, his daughter Clara, son-in-law Dave, his sisters Eilish & Brid, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and a wide circle of friends.
Funeral arrangements will be announced later.
Cathal Flynn was one of the country's leading marksmen in that times and regularly topped the scoring lists nationally, scoring 1-18 in three matches in the 1963 championship to finish second in the championship scoring charts for that season as the Leitrim star averaged seven points a game.
Cathal was also one of three Leitrim players to win a Railway Cup with Connacht in 1958, along with McGarty and Columba Cryan, and the Leitrim man was a fixture on the Provincial team for much of the late 50s and 60s, his exploits with the ball marking him out as one of the best forwards in the game.
Cathal also played for the Ireland team which was drawn to play against the Combined Universities team and also won a Leinster Colleges medal in 1952 with Multyfarnham, having played on the same Minor team as future senior team colleagues Packie McGarty and Tony Hayden.
The late Packie McGarty held his friend in the highest regard as he revealed in an interview with the Observer back in 2016: "Cathal was a great player, a great corner-forward. I tell you what, there was very few men could mark Flynn, I saw Jerome O’Shea, Willie Casey and them all on him. The day we played Leinster in Ballinasloe in 1958, we beat Leinster, we scored everything, myself and Flynn, bar two points and Flynn would have scored them two points only Purcell was taking the frees. Flynn was inside in the corner and I was playing in the centre on Gerry O’Reilly of Wicklow.
"Cathal was more than a free-taker, Flynn would come out and catch the ball, he remind you of Bernard Flynn of Meath, he used to come out and catch the ball and he’d cut right across the goal and he’d kick whichever which way he was running, he’d kick it with either foot on the run, he was the top scorer in Ireland."
Cathal himself had very fond memories of his outings with Galway as he recalled in a 2018 interview with Philip Rooney in the Leitrim Observer: "I was about six years on the Connacht team. I was a sub in 1954 and then I got on the team in 1958. You had 50-60,000 people in Croke Park for the finals and even the semi-finals in Ballinasloe or Tullamore or Breffni Park, they drew quite a crowd. There were great teams and it was very exciting.”
In the mid to late 1950s, Leitrim enjoyed something of a golden era but it was still difficult to earn a place on the Connacht team as Galway were so strong. Reflecting on his days in the Connacht jersey, Cathal looked back fondly on the role played by himself and a select group of Leitrim footballers.
“It was special. Columba was a sub most of the time, he got on a few times. It was mainly Pakie and myself and then Josie Murray came along later, the Lord have mercy on Josie. We didn’t get too many on at the time because Galway were very strong at the time and Mayo were fairly useful. Galway were winning All-Irelands and we were trying to beat them but it was very hard.”
To the Flynn family and Cathal's many admirers and friends, the staff of the Leitrim Observer offer our deepest sympathy on their great loss.
May Cathal Rest In Peace.
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