THE level of regard in which Ger O’Halloran was held was illustrated by the high numbers of mourners at his funeral last weekend.
While the Bandon native and Ballinhassig resident may not have been a household name, the household names of Cork GAA knew and respected him.
In the way that fate sometimes provides fitting codas, he was buried on Saturday and, that afternoon, the two clubs dear to his heart met in the Premier IHC quarter-final, with a minute’s silence held beforehand and Ballinhassig edging matters when the action began.
The two clubs had also met in the 2012 PIHC final, when it was the third tier. He kept his cards close to his chest that time, merely saying that he couldn’t lose. While Ballinhassig won that, Bandon went all the way four years later and it was a source of huge pride to Ger that it was his son Niall who was in charge of them.
As 2001 moved towards 2002, Ballinhassig had endured more than a decade at junior level and they turned to club legend Seánie McCarthy to guide the team. He knew that he wanted Ger – who had been club secretary and chairperson in the 1990s – involved.
“I had always said that, if I got involved in running a team, I had two people in mind and Ger was one of them, Mick Lombard was the other,” he says.
“Ger really intrigued me with the type of guy he was and how much he knew about the game.
“He blew me away with his professionalism and he never, ever criticised a player – he always saw the positives and gave people the benefit of the doubt. He was firm but he was fair.
“He was no fool – he was a very astute, cute, intelligent man. He analysed the game to the nth degree and brought a different perspective.
“It really strengthened our friendship. We won the county and the inaugural junior club All-Ireland and that laid the foundation for the modern history of the club – we won the intermediate in 2005 and went up to senior.”
Later, Ger served as a Cork selector on intermediate, U21 and minor teams. Pat Kenneally managed some of those sides and he describes Ger as his “wise counsel”.
“He was a natural organiser who exuded calmness and assurance in a most personable fashion but that belied a steeliness when necessary,” he says.
“Something that spoke volumes was the huge number of people whom he could call on and develop and maintained friendships effortlessly while always remaining principled.
“I was honoured to be a friend and a member of his extensive ‘coffee circuit’, even though he was a traditional pot-of-tea man.”
As well as club and county duties, he undertook selectorial roles with CIT/MTU Cork and Keith Ricken, previously the college's GAA development officer and now student service officer, will miss his input.
"Ger truly believed in higher-education GAA and the importance it played in the development of not just the player, but also the person," he says.
"He often sat on bursary interviews and his insight into the whole person was truly remarkable, often advocating for extra support for any player who he felt may have needed such.
"Despite his illness, he still managed to hop the ball and that twinkle in his eye was still as lively and enchanting as ever. He spoke candidly of missing the training and the matches but above else in MTU, he will miss calling in for the cup of tea - he'd say, 'I really love meeting people – there is something special in that.'
"For me, that summed up everything about this wonderful human being. I hope now he realised that they loved meeting him too. He will be truly missed."
Those views are echoed by John Mortell, who managed the MTU Fitzgibbon Cup team this year.
“Ger was a great character and wonderful company to be with," he says. “I was lucky enough to be a Cork minor selector with him in 2012 and 2013 and also worked with him with CIT and the MTU Fitzgibbon Cup team this year.
“He was a very shrewd judge of hurling and had an excellent way with the players. We will miss the Monday morning analysis after the weekend’s action.”
Frank Flannery, who also had a stint in charge of the college side, was another full of praise for Ger.
“He was very charismatic, he had a great way about him – he was just great fun,” he says. “He had a great sense of craic and he’d be slagging the whole time.
“He was very polished as well – we have three small kids and he got a baby present for each one of them, no need to do it at all but that’s the way he was, himself and Ber.
“He was very fair and solid and I couldn’t speak highly enough of him.”
Away from GAA, Ger spent much of his working career with the Window & Door Store, while his sense of community was underlined by the time he gave to St Michael’s Centre in Bandon.
As well as that, he was a keen golfer, representing Bandon in the Pierce Purcell Shield, Michael Minihan Shield and JB Carr Trophy.
He served as President in 2017 and, in that role and many others, he was tireless in his efforts.
“He was involved in a number of committees, particularly in relation to the restructuring of the club,” says Bandon GC chairperson Jim Hurley.
“He had a great sense of social responsibility and he was sincere and diligent, working quietly and effectively behind the scenes without looking for praise. The club is better today because of his contribution.”
And of course, last but most importantly, he was a husband, father, brother and friend.
"In life, there are givers and there are takers," said his son Niall at Saturday’s burial Mass, "and Dad was very much a giver.
“You championed us every day, but we want you to know that you were our champion.”
Ger O’Halloran is survived by his wife Bernadette, children Sinéad, Niall and Ciara and siblings, Noel, Dan, Anne and Jim.