Every club has good clubmen but while Senior and Intermediate clubs might disagree it’s a special type of clubman that is involved in the small rural Junior clubs, the ones that over the decades could easily go to the wall but don’t.
Noel Reilly was that kind of man in Drumconrath, never a star on the football field but a good clubman over the years. In the 80s and early 90’s Drumconrath had tough days but in 1987 success came our way and the All County Football League Division 5 and in 1994 the Division 4 title was won. Noel Reilly was involved. Wins in the Championship wins where hard got but in 1995 Drumconrath’s young guns made the JFC Final losing to Duleek, Noel was behind the scenes.
The Following year Drumconrath won the Matthew Ginnity Cup with victory over our fellow parishioners Meath Hill and on the greatest day in Drumconrath GFC history Noel Reilly was a proud selector. We can all remember Shay lifting the Cup and saying the usual few words but I can remember when we came down from the presentation area and back on the pitch the 1st man to grab the cup and lift it to Heaven was Noel Reilly. It meant a lot. We also won the League Division 3 that year.
Success followed with U-21 wins in 1997 and 1998 with Noel’s sons Mark and Leo playing and he really enjoyed those wins and again in 2000 with Drumconrath’s first and only Title in a 2nd team competition and the Division 3B League victory with again Mark and Leo involved. Noel again was a selector.
In 1999 when at the AGM the club was getting it hard to find a Chairman Noel stood into the breach and declared if he was wanted he would do it for 3 years and then move on. Everyone knew we had a Chairman for the next 3 years and the Club would benefit. In 1999 work started on the Juvenile/Training pitch and to finance it we ran a draw. Noel as Chairman was the driving force behind it and mobilised everyone and anyone interested in football or not it did not matter to make it a success as only someone with his personality could and what a success it was raising almost 60,000 Irish Punts no less by the time Tommy Dowd pulled out the winning ticket.
True to his word Noel stayed on as Chairman for 3 years and continued on the Committee for a few more years and when a selector was needed in 2006 Noel was approached and as was usual when you heard I’ll have to talk to Mary you knew Noel was interested and he would be on board. That was our best ever team and went to within a point of winning the Intermediate Football Final and just a score away from the chance to play Senior Football. Grown men cried that afternoon in Pairc Tailteann, I don’t think Noel did, not outwardly anyway. He told us to straighten ourselves up and “don’t let them see you like that” that was how he saw it, he put his heart into but at the end of the day it was only a game and wasn’t it great to get as far as we did. From someone who had seen the bad old days in Drumconrath GFC when maybe tears where more appropriate no doubt he was right.
Noel Reilly was around for all the Golden years in football for our half of the parish, Involved in so many teams always there when needed. This was so evident with the amount of young people who attended his Funeral, when the family decided to carry his coffin from the Church to the Cemetery (the length of the Village) there was so many volunteers the fear was that not all would get the chance to help out.
I used to meet Noel most mornings as he travelled in a van with 2 others to work. I still meet the van but it’s evident something is missing just as it is at Callan’s shop when he collared you for a chat or on Cortown Lane where he lived and farmed and no one got up and down the lane too easy without the time of day being passed. Noel Reilly is a great loss is many ways in our Village and the like of him cannot be replaced nor should anyone try. His wit and eye for fun was well known and no one escaped once he decided you where fair game and that is what it was, all a bit of crack and no harm done. Noel Reilly did not like to plan to far ahead, he lived for the present and when he was taken one Sunday morning so suddenly we were all shocked but maybe that was how he would have wanted it, just not that quick as he still had a lot of living to do. But as we know that is not our choice.
To his wife Mary and his three sons Mark, Leo and Sean, his grandchildren who he adored, his brothers, sisters and his large extended family Drumconrath GFC wish to send their condolences.
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.