Castlehaven legend Ned Cleary lived for the GAA and his family

West Cork football community pays respect to legend of the Haven on his passing
Castlehaven legend Ned Cleary lived for the GAA and his family

The late Ned Cleary and his wife Kathleen supporting the Cork minors against Kerry in the Munster final in Killarney. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THERE was much sadness in the wider hinterland of Castlehaven and Cork GAA circles following the death on Saturday of club stalwart Ned Cleary.

The Mayo man who played such a prominent role in helping Castlehaven GAA Club achieve so much success moved to Castletownshend as a member of the Garda Síochána in 1962.

Ned immediately made a huge contribution in the local community.

He quickly began playing with the Haven junior football team, before he took over as their trainer in 1969. His appointment quickly reaped dividends as the Haven won the Junior B divisional title that year. 

The football enthusiast continued to enjoy success as he led Castlehaven to junior and intermediate county glory in 1976 and 1978 respectively, before contesting a senior county final in 1979. Ned played an integral role in developing the young players who would enjoy so much success for the Haven in the following years.

Another stalwart with the Castlehaven GAA Club, Christy Collins paid tribute to the late Mr Cleary for his huge contribution both on and off the pitch with the club. 

“He was a fierce addition to the club. It is unlikely we would be where we are only for him. 

He was a leader. He had respect from the players, every member of the club and the community. 

"He brought great discipline and knowledge. He had a presence. We were fortunate to get a dedicated community man who invested so much time and effort into the club.” 

Sean Kelly, former President of the GAA, who was guest of honour at the Castlehaven GAA dinner with Ned Cleary, his daughter Nollaig and grandson Damien Cahalane. Picture: Anne Minihane.
Sean Kelly, former President of the GAA, who was guest of honour at the Castlehaven GAA dinner with Ned Cleary, his daughter Nollaig and grandson Damien Cahalane. Picture: Anne Minihane.

Following his successful tenure as a coach, Ned soon moved into an administrative role as he became the club chairman during the 1980s. He played a central role in helping the club purchase and develop their existing club grounds in Moneyvolihane. Ned, who was the club president at the time of his sad death, also served as a vice-chairman of the Carbery GAA Board and as a selector with the Carbery footballers.

Ned’s family followed in his GAA footsteps and he took great pride in the success his extended family members enjoyed with both Castlehaven and the various Cork inter-county teams.

Christy said the late Mr Cleary was a ‘huge catalyst’ in the success the club has enjoyed in recent decades. 

“He was a great club man in every role possible. He lived for the GAA and his family. He was a vital cog in the wheel. He has left behind a huge legacy both within his own beloved GAA club, but to the wider GAA community. He fitted into our club and community like a glove.” 

Ned Cleary and his family at the Cork International Airport Hotel; Southside and District Sports Awards for September winner Nollaig Cleary in 2013. Picture: Gerard Bonus
Ned Cleary and his family at the Cork International Airport Hotel; Southside and District Sports Awards for September winner Nollaig Cleary in 2013. Picture: Gerard Bonus

Ned is survived by his wife Kathleen, and by his children John, Denis, Ailish, Deirdre, Emer, Edmund, Orla and Nollaig, his 27 grandchildren and his extended family.

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