Jim Nelson and Malachy Mahon R.I.P.

Hurling has lost one of its most dedicated servants with the death of Jim Nelson who, after a brave fight, succumbed to severe illness and was laid to rest during March after a packed Requiem Mass in his local St Michael’s Church, Andersonstown.

Hurling people from all over Ireland paid their respects to one of the most dedicated hurling men of our time.

Jim didn’t star on the hurling field but his contribution to the caman game was in coaching. He was a coach before his time. A coach who used methods throughout the eighties and nineties that others are only now realising are what is needed for success.

He wasn’t a coach who cajoled his charges but a man who did the job in a quiet and pleasant manner with a smile on his face at all times. He led Antrim to the All-Ireland SHC final, against Tipperary, in 1989 – a magical feat one could rightly claim. He also played a major role in Loughgiel Shamrocks winning the All-Ireland Club SHC final a few years ago.

The St Paul’s clubman was always ready to help anybody who asked for assistance and he was the man who influenced the careers of many notable county players. He was as much respected in Munster hurling circles as in Ulster.

Jim also managed the Ulster provincial team for many years and he guided UUJ, as well. He coached camogie, too, and even played a bit of club football with St Paul’s.

However, hurling was his greatest sporting love and he played the game at club level right up to his late forties. In 1988 Jim received the first ever Personality of the Year Award from the Ulster GAA Writers Association. His dedication and expertise will be sadly missed. He was always friendly and helpful and a pleasure to interview. His wife and family circles will miss him most but we all will miss Jim Nelson.

Anther dedicated GAA man, who recently went to his Eternal Rest, was Malachy Mahon, a former president of the Ulster Council, ex-Fermanagh county secretary and player and an inter-county referee.

Like Jim Nelson, Irvinestown man Malachy succumbed to that deadly disease after a short illness and he will surely be greatly missed from GAA circles and, of course, by his family more so.

Malachy worked for probably his lifetime for the GAA at club, county and provincial levels. People like Malachy Mahon and Jim Nelson are far from plentiful nowadays when it is not so much ‘what can I do for you as what can you do for me’ in a different era of sport.

The GAA is much poorer after the deaths of Jim Nelson and Malachy Mahon.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a n-anamacha naofa.