Dedicated Cork GAA fan Jonty followed the Rebels from Dungarvan to Donegal 

Dedicated Cork GAA fan Jonty followed the Rebels from Dungarvan to Donegal 
Cork fans Cyril Kavanagh and Jonty O'Leary celebrate against Dublin in the All-Ireland ladies football final at Croke Park in 2016. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Jonty O'Leary was a staunch Rebel, who followed his county's fortunes in every code through thick and thin.

Picture: Denis Minihane.
Picture: Denis Minihane.

The passionate hurling and football fan was also a keen follower of St Finbarr's. 

Jonty's colourful red and white outfits and hat made him recognisible throughout the GAA world. 

The death notice read for Timmy 'Jonty' O'Leary read:

"Dearly beloved husband of Julia (nee Twomey) and much loved father of Patrick and Bríd (Comerford). Sadly missed by his loving family, sisters Lorette and Margie, son-in-law Jonathan, Patrick's partner Sarah, adored grandchildren Laura, Joe and Julie, nephews, nieces, bother-in-law, sisters-in-law, relatives, neighbours and a large circle of friends especially Seanie Walsh and the Cork Rebel Band."

The untimely and sad passing of Jonty, one of Cork GAA's most colourful and iconic supporters, will leave a huge void both on GAA terraces and also among his Rebel Band Colleagues with whom he travelled the length and breadth of Ireland.

Jonty supported Cork in hurling, Gaelic football, camogie and ladies football across all ages and grades in winter, spring, summer and autumn. 

Robert Frost, Munster Council, presents Ray Carey with the McGrath Cup as Jonty O'Leary looks on. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Robert Frost, Munster Council, presents Ray Carey with the McGrath Cup as Jonty O'Leary looks on. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

McGrath Cup, national league games and championship were all treated with equal importance by Jonty. 

'Have game will travel' was very much his mission statement and will be his defining legacy too.

Jonty played the drums in the Rebel Band and could be seen anywhere from Donegal to Dungarvan, from Croke Park to Cusack Park, cheering on his beloved Rebels. 

Invariably in tow were his great friends and band colleagues Thomas 'Bomber' Roche, Pa 'The Piper' O'Leary, Cyril 'The Bird' Kavanagh, Ray Lucey, Shane Murphy and Eddie 'The Eagle' Burns.

Cyril Kavanagh, Jonty O'Leary, Eddie Byrne and Tom Roche, in City Hall. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Cyril Kavanagh, Jonty O'Leary, Eddie Byrne and Tom Roche, in City Hall. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Jonty attended his first All-Ireland in 1956 and was a standing dish at Kent Station to greet Cork teams whether they won or lost. 

He epitomised the essence of loyalty to the Rebel cause in both victory and defeat.

I recall walking down Parnell Street from Croke Park after a Cork game and Jonty's sombrero was taken by some undesirables.

I managed to retrieve it and I sensed how important it was to him a symbol of his Cork identity on the terraces and it defined who he was a 'Rebel to the Core'. 

Picture: Des Barry
Picture: Des Barry

He was also a true blue and to see his beloved Barrs win the Cork County Senior Football Championship in 2018 after a 33-year wait was also a particularly special moment which he cherished and celebrated as only he could.

I travelled in his company many times and these journeys to a game invariably turned into a long weekend. 

Win, lose or draw, Jonty ensured there were no regrets.

Rest peacefully Jonty hopefully you got the season ticket to the corporate box in heaven.

More in this section

Sponsored Content