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Matt Sonny McCann (R.I.P)

mccann_sonny.JPG Sonny was a man above the average height, possessing broad shoulders, a muscular body and tree trunk legs. This description might create a picture of a man-made robot, though Sonny was flesh and blood and seemingly tireless. In our club he was affectionately called ‘Tiny’, a misnomer as he was a big man physically and mentally. He led us slowly but surely on many campaigns . He was on of the great characters who graced Derry football. His county career began in 1940 and finished in 1954, when he kept goals, as normally Sonny routinely played centre half. This position he occupied for Derry in 1947 when they won their first National League title. He was an extremely versatile player who over the years occupied various positions on both club and county teams. His ability was recognised far beyond the bounds of Derry county. In 1947 he played at right half back on Ulster’s Railway Cup winning team. This Ulster side was one of the finest teams to represent the province.

Making his first appearance at eighteen years of age in 1939. His last club appearance was in a championship final in 1962 against Ballymaguigan. This span of 23 years at club level includes 14 years at the highest level of Gaelic football in Ireland. A tidy record and we thank for it and pay tribute to him and latterly to his dear wife Rosaleen R.I.P. May they both rest in peace.

Here is a kaleidoscope of Sonny’s silverware and honours: 1944: Dr Lagan and Junior Championship medals. 1946: Dr Lagan Cup medal 1947: National League and Railway Cup medals 1947/1954: Dr McKenna Cup medals; two Duffy Cup Medals (the first being awarded at the opening of the Clone pitch

During a spell while employed in England Sonny won League and Championship medals with his adoptive side in Warwickshire. As the club records show he served as Chairman and Secretary for a period of time. He was a truly great player and athlete and we salute him.

Alexander McKeever (R.I.P.)

mckeever_alex.jpeg He joined St. Malachy’s as a young man and his ability as an administrator and footballer soon became apparent. He acted as club secretary for a period, before moving to Belfast in the late forties to take a permanent post with Hughes’ Bakery. Shortly after his departure he transferred to O’Connells GFC where he partnered the famous Kevin Armstrong in many a high scoring game. Until Alex’s untimely death in August 1991, humour was his middle name. An enjoyable conversation, punctuated by laughter always ensues whenever and wherever his name is remembered. He was an excellent raconteur, whose delivery was timed to perfection. His exploits home or away were always original and legendary and still fondly recalled in Belfast and Castledawson. If one considers our club as a pack of cards then Alex was indeed the joker.

His death robbed the club of a great supporter and entertainer. To his wife Lydia and family we say thanks for sharing Alex with us. May he rest in peace.

Frank McKee (R.I.P.)

mckee_sonny.jpeg We pay tribute to Frank ‘Sonny’ McKee one of the clubs founding members and a dedicated supporter. Sonny gave long years of service as a player, committee member and on two occasions held the post of club chairman. He played at left half back on the team from 1940 until the mid fifties. Although small in stature he was nimble and skillful and gave many an opposing forward the runaround with his on the ground ball control. His skills in this regard did not go unnoticed with the result that he was approached to transfer to another football code. These offers were not given consideration and he remained committed to his chosen past-time, the GAA.

Sonny was a warm hearted person with his own style of humour and heraty laugh. During his time as Chairman he saw to it that the club’s business was conducted in a quiet and efficient manner. His death on 25 March 1990 was a great loss to his dear wife Sara and daughter Colette. May he rest in peace.

Seamus Keenan (R.I.P.)

keenan_seamus.jpg In march 1983 we again were left with a great void by the sudden death of Seamus Keenan. Seamus, who joined the club at the early age was widely known as a skilled player at county and club level. He played at right full back for club and county before his football career was cut short due to serious knee injury. Among his many trophies were National League, McKenna Cup and Lagan Cup medals. He won many accolades and we were latterly privileged to have him hold many positions in the club, including chairman for many years. He was an energetic and devoted club man who led from the front. His business acumen, advice and friendship has been greatly missed, both within the club and the surrounding area.

Those of us who had the privilege of knowing Seamus, realise how much his presence is missed in our club. His talent and ability on the field of play for club and county are frequently recalled. We acknowledge the legacy he bestowed to the club with his children, all of whom are committed club members and supports, Two of the boys have been credited with the county honours and display the innate ability on the field of play that belongs to their dad. Rest in peace Seamus.

Barney Kealey

kealey_barney1.jpg It is with great sadness that we came to terms with the death of Barney Kealey in September 1981. Barney will always hold a special memory in our club. For twenty years the clubs purse strings were in his capable hands. During those years he saw to it that the club finances were kept in a sound state and that fundraising was given top priority at all times. It would go without saying that he frowned on money being spent on what he considered to be unnecessary projects. He was a staunch club member who never missed a club meeting unless through illness. He could smile at adversity and during the pleasanter moments of life his hearty laugh acted as a tonic to his friends. He was of course the oldest member of our famous Kealey family who will always have a place in the club annals with their contribution at club and county level. May he rest in peace.

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