20 Jan 2022

Tributes paid following death of long serving and highly respected Offaly GAA official

Death of a long serving Doon and Offaly GAA official

The late Bill Healy: Picture Doon GAA Club.

THE death has taken place of a long serving Doon and Offaly GAA official. 80 years of age, Bill Healy gave a lifetime of service to his beloved club and county.

He served his own club in several capacities throughout his life and for many people, he was synonymous with Doon GAA Club.

He was a selector on the Offaly GAA that won the All-Ireland U-21 Football Championship in 1988, working under manager Jody Gunning (Rhode).

Bill Healy was a passionate football man and he was one of those tireless workers that every club needs.

A friendly, welcoming, personable face to games in Doon, he served his club for over sixty years. He was chairman, groundsman, County Board delegate, kitman, team trainer and mentor. He was the Doon GAA president at the time of his death.

He was the type of individual that got involved in every strand of club activity and as always willing to get his hands dirty. He was fiercely proud of Doon GAA Cub and their impressive grounds – he looked after both with loving care.

He was fiercely proud of the achievements of Doon GAA. He was thrilled when Doon won the Junior Football Championship in 1970 and their golden era came from the late 1980s into the 2000s – they won the Junior Football Championship in 1987, Intermediate Football Championship in 1989 and Senior “B” Football Championship in 1990. They went senior and held their own there for several years, which was a tremendous achievement for a small, essentially rural club. Doon were not far away during the 1990s and early 2000s, going close to making a big breakthrough with a team that had one of the best Offaly footballers of that era, Vinny Claffey - they had a number of others who played for Offaly at various levels.

Doon provided some of the greats of Offaly football and Bill was very proud of this. John Egan was a brilliant corner back in the 1960s, winning Leinster senior football medals in 1960, 1961 and 1969 and playing in the '61 and '69 All-Ireland final defeats. Mick Ryan was a brilliant corner back and an All-Star on the Offaly team that won the All-Ireland senior football title in 1971 and 1972 while Kieran Claffey was midfield in 1971, winning a second medal in 1972. Vinny Claffey was brilliant as Offaly won the Leinster Senior Football Championship and National Football League in 1997 and 1998.

Bill Healy helped every underage footballer in Doon for decades as the manager of underage teams and the sight of him in football boots or wellingtons, encouraging players, was a familiar one.

In his younger days, he was noted for transporting players to games, often loading his car up to the brim. He was pivotally inolved in many important Doon developments – the securing of a pitch at Rashina and then the development of their current ground just outside Doon village. He had great enthusiasm, boundless energy and was a successful fundraiser.

His driving passion was underage football. He did trojan work in the Doon area and was a key backer when Doon and Erin Rovers combined to form DER Gaels some years ago. He was a Doon man to his core but he was a firm believer in the benefits of uniting the forces of the wider parish at underage level with Erin Rovers and, later, Ballycumber.

Involvement at Offaly level as a natural progression. He was also a selector on the Offaly team beaten by Cork in the 1986 All-Ireland U-21 Football Championship final and he enjoyed his involvement at this level.

Bill served on a number of Offaly GAA committees over the years and was a great point of contact for the County Board in the Doon area.

He was an engaging, friendlly man – he loved GAA conversations, he was obliging and he possessed a great sense of humour.

He is the latest of a number of well known GAA officials who have died in the past year: Martin Minnock (Shamrocks), Tony Cassidy (Belmont), John Glennon (Rhode), Martin Heffernan (Tullamore), to mention a few.

He made a lifetime's contribution to his home area and county and he will be long remembered.

He is sadly missed by his loving wife Rose (née Gannon), daughter Cora (Rohan), son William, son-in-law Declan, daughter-in-law Chloe, his adored grandchildren Senán and Eva, his brothers and sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, neighbours and his wide circle of friends.

The funeral Mass is on Thursday at 11o’clock in St. Colmcille’s Church, Ballinahown, funeral to Clonmacnoise via Doon.

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