The late Martin Kelly, Ballymore Eustace
There was a great send off for the late Martin Kelly last week, with a guard of honour from both Naas GAA and BME GFC last week. His many friends from the former St Oliver Plunketts team flanked Martin’s cortege into the church, so many friendships retained over the years and indeed, Martin and Clare were holidaying with two of those teammates and their families when he collapsed and died suddenly on Friday, August 24.
‘Plunketts’ was an extraordinary bunch of talent pulled together from youth in Ballymore Eustace, Two Mile House and Eadestown who enjoyed considerable success in the late late ‘70s and early ‘80s the team began to compete for League and Championship titles at underage level until they claimed the Minor championship title in 1985 under Captain Frank Murphy, one of Martin’s closest friends.
Kellys house in Bishophill was bed and breakfast to the Plunkett lads in those days, with the late Anne and Seamus, Martin’s parents, renowned for their open-ended hospitality! The late Seamus was one of the selectors and support team for Plunketts during the glory years.
1985 was also the year BME won the county junior title. It was the late Martin who scored an impressive 1-4 against the ‘Larks’ (Ballyteague) in the final. In 1986, Ballymore progressed to the Intermediate Final where Martin was again the key scorer, contributing 7 points to the victors on the day.
Sadly, Martin’s family had already endured losses in recent years, with the loss of his youger sister Rachel and his parents both dying in quick succession. Family meant everything to Martin so he would have been especially proud of the mass, of the gifts presented by his many nieces and nephews, symbols of his life and narrated by his beloved daughter Aisling.
Ronan, his son, sang a very apt Cat Stevens song, ‘Father and Son’ and was accompanied by X Factor star, Sean Price, a fellow student at Naas CBS. A very emotional and tender rendition that brought to attendance to tears. The church was packed with the wider GAA communities and his many colleagues from the Department of Defence.
Songs performed by Naas Parish Choir, Caroline Behan and Conor Sweeney just seemed all the sadder knowing this was a man dearly loved and needed, aged only 51 years.
Clare, his wife, thanked everyone who had helped then during the previous days, when they were absorbing the shock of Martin’s sudden death. She spoke of Martin's love of everything to do with sport, his administration roles in recent years with Naas GAA, coaching camogie with Naas and recalling previous years playing with Ballymore.
The loss to Clare, Aisling, Ronan and Shane is immeasurable. And to his sisters, Michelle and Denise, along with the extended Kelly, Clarke and Tiernan families. A man who will be remembered fondly yes, for his football skills, but also for his wit and good humour, and ability to get on with everyone.
A dreadful loss to family, friends and community, may he never be forgotten — the late Martin Kelly, rest in peace, amen.