Ballinrobe GAA club regrets to announce the death yesterday, April 11th, of a valued and decorated member of our club, Mr Pat Malone (74) the Neale Road, Ballinrobe. He had been ill for some time.
A native of Killimordaly, Co. Galway, Pat and his wife Madeline, and young family, moved to Ballinrobe in 1971. Pat was a member of An Gárda Síochána and prior to his arrival in Ballinrobe, he had been stationed in Co. Limerick where he had the distinction of being player-manager of the Ballingarry team which won a rare West Limerick junior hurling championship.
When he was appointed to Ballinrobe, it was the start of a long and distinguished association with our club and the GAA generally in this part of the world.
He had a lifelong love of hurling and played in the Ballinrobe colours for many years, winning Mayo senior titles in 1973, 1976 and 1977. In 1977, he was honoured with the prestigious Western People Sports Star of the Year for hurling.
Other notable hurling distinctions were an All-Ireland Garda title won with Galway West in the mid 1970s, and a spell as a Galway minor hurling selector. In 1977 he was a central figure when Ballinrobe enjoyed a glorious year, capturing the Mayo U14, Feile na nGael, U16, minor and senior titles. Pat was a key mentor to all of those successful under-age teams, and a star player on the senior team. As a player, he was the essence of versatility, lining out in virtually every position of the field at various stages.
In 1980, he coached the Ballinrobe team that won the Connacht U16 hurling title, beating Ballygar in the final. He played senior hurling for Mayo from 1972 to 1978, and was top scorer in Mayo hurling in 1973. He managed Mayo at various under-age and adult levels.
Appropriately, his final game in the green and red was on the hallowed sod of Croke Park, when he played full-forward in the Division 3 NHL final against Armagh. Alas, it was not to prove a celebratory swansong as Mayo lost the game. In recent years, he had monitored the progress of the fledgling Moytura hurling club in this region, and was very hopeful for the future of hurling in south Mayo.
He played Gaelic football for Ballinrobe, and it was as a manager and coach of numerous under-age and adult football teams that he made an enormous contribution to our club. He was to the fore in nurturing generations of club players, and managed teams to win titles at divisional and county levels. These included Mayo U14 and U16 titles during what was a hugely successful era for our club.
Many players who went on to star for Ballinrobe and Mayo benefitted from his tutelage. As a coach and manager, he was highly innovative – among his many progressive initiatives was the mould-breaking practice of taking club teams beyond the county boundaries to play challenge games against leading sides in neighbouring counties.
Pat’s commitment to the development of football was total. Year after year, new players passed through his care, and he gave each group equal attention. He later graduated to the position of the club’s senior team manager, where he brought the same people management skills and tactical astuteness to bear.
His achievements as senior manager included a Mayo Division 2 title, and a subsequent appearance in the Super League final. He also guided the team to the quarter-final of the Mayo SFC in 1985, only to lose to Ballina Stephenites, the ultimate winners of the championship that year.
He was honoured with a number of club awards down through the years, including, in recent years, the Bord na nÓg Hall of Fame award.
Members of his family played hurling, camogie and football for both Ballinrobe and Mayo, and the Malone family has been synonymous with the GAA in this region from the 1970s to the present day. Family members have made an enormous contribution in a range of roles, including playing, coaching, management and administration. Indeed, we are now in a time when members of the third generation of the family are wearing the club colours.
Pat served at various administrative levels within Ballinrobe GAA club, and remained a strong supporter of the club’s activities.
Additionally, he served Ballinrobe RFC with distinction as a player and mentor and this keen sportsman enjoyed a game of golf in the local club.
He is survived by his wife Madeline and children Breda (Madden), John, Pat, Kate (Walsh), Jenny (Hughes) and Niall. Deeply regretted by his sons-in-law Micheál, Edward and Declan, daughters-in-law Caroline, Dympna & Norrie, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, relatives, neighbours and friends.
As a mark of respect to Pat, the club’s annual awards function and O’Mara Cup game versus Shrule-Glencorrib, both of which were due to take place on Saturday, April 12th, have been postponed.
The club will form a guard of honour to give a fitting send-off to a man who made a very rich contribution to the lives of our members and to his adopted community. Funeral arrangements are as follows:
Reposing at his residence on this Sunday from 2 o’clock to 7 o’clock. Private removal on Monday to St Mary’s Church, Ballinrobe for funeral mass at 12 noon with burial immediately afterwards in New Cemetery. Family flowers only. Donations if desired, to Palliative Care c/o Cummins Funeral Directors.
We extend our deepest sympathy to his family, his former colleagues in An Gárda Síochána, and his wide circle of friends. May he rest in peace.
– Alan Flannery, Chairman, Ballinrobe GAA Club