The news of the sudden passing of Brendan Canning was a huge shock to the club and the community, as it became known last Thursday morning, October 5.
Brendan had a deep involvement in a wide range of voluntary community activities for over 50 years ranging from the GAA to the credit union to amateur drama. In sporting terms, he would be described today as a teenage prodigy. Brendan played in goals for St. Francis as a 16 year old for an historic Junior Championship success in 1963, a first for Drumshanbo.
In 1965 he had the unique distinction of representing Leitrim at minor, U-21, junior and senior level in the same year while still in secondary school. He also won a Connacht Minor Hurling Championship medal with Leitrim at this time scoring three goals in the final. Indeed he joked that in the All Ireland Semi Final against Limerick which was a one sided affair, he was marked by future All Star & All Ireland Winner, Pat Hartigan, and the pair made a deal that late in the game Brendan would be given free passage to goal to put a gloss on the scoreline - It could only happen to Brendan!
He represented Leitrim at senior level for a number of years & enjoyed further club success by winning a three in a row of Division 1 League Titles with Allen Gaels in 1973, 74 & ’75 and was part of that team which contested 6 league finals on the trot and lost a senior championship final in 1973 after a replay. He continued playing into the mid 1980’s and captained the club in the centenary year of 1984. Brendan was also a keen contributor to Scor and excelled in Question Time and was part of the legendary trips to England in 1985 to raise funds for the purchase of The Mayflower as a community centre.
He served the club as team selector, referee, coach, Scor participant and he was a great man to pen a poem to celebrate a famous club victory or to contribute to match programmes. He was club secretary on a number of occasions and as recently as 2002 when the Club last won the senior championship and although Brendan would never have said it, he was hugely proud to see his son, Andy make the breakthrough to the senior team and collect a championship medal. One of Brendan’s greatest contributions to the club is often overlooked and that was the role he played in coaching & nurturing a young crop of players in the early 1980’s that would go on to enjoy great success at senior level in the years ahead.
He was responsible for creating the ‘town league’ that brought on a generation of young players in that period. As a man, Brendan was fiercely loyal, utterly dependable and a straight talker – he wouldn’t always tell you what you wanted to hear but maybe it was what you needed to hear and there was always common sense & logic behind it.
To those who knew him best it will be the quick wit and sense of fun that will be the abiding memory and we will miss those humorous exchanges most of all. The Club performed a guard of honour on Monday at his funeral and a minute’s silence was observed before the County Final on Sunday.
The Club extends deepest condolences to Rosie, Trevor, Andrea, Trina & Andrew, to his brothers John and Mel and sister, Joan, as well as the McGowan, McKeon & Guckian Families, his extended family & a wide circle of friends. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.