The word legend is misused and far too often bandied about when it comes to the GAA in particular. But I am entirely comfortable using the word to describe the late Sean Young who gave his life to the GAA and Roscommon GAA in particular.
I’m not sure when I first came in contact with Sean Young but it was probably in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was coaching the Roscommon minor team that my brother Declan was on. Even though he was a Derry man his contribution to Roscommon GAA was simply enormous. For over five decades, there was hardly a year that he wasn’t involved with some team or other, whether it was Boyle or Roscommon. He loved coaching and he loved coaching young players in particular.
I was a very young County Board delegate and when I was going to County Board meetings every month one of the most vocal delegates was Sean Young. He passionately believed in club football and he argued for many years that county players should be playing far more club football all the time. Having said that he coached and managed every Roscommon county team there was at the time. In fact he was manager of the county senior team twice, once in the 70’s (when Roscommon were beaten by Kerry in a league final replay) and again in the 80’s.
Another remarkable thing about Sean Young was that although he put his entire life into Roscommon football he remained a very staunch Derry man. He loved to tell us all about his great friend, the legendary Jim McKeever, and any time Derry were doing well he was over the moon. Needless to say he was so excited in 1993 when his beloved county won the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time.
He was great company and loved the craic. Even though he never drank or smoked, many a long day and night we enjoyed in his company after matches and at GAA Golf outings. I will always remember the evening of Jimmy Murray’s funeral in P Walshe’s pub. There was a big crowd there and we were telling yarns and football stories and singing songs, remembering the great Knockcroghery man. Sean stood up and gave a rendition of ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ the likes of which I never heard before or since. You would hear a pin drop as he sang that night. Not a drink taken but still mad to be in the middle of the craic. He was a mighty singer and I heard him many, many times over the years. That was Sean Young.
There was a period of about 15 years when Sean Young rang me almost every week to comment on what I had written in the paper about GAA and football in particular. The phone call always started with him saying ‘Young Man’ Some weeks he agreed with me and others he disagreed with me too. We argued plenty but we never fell out. He was so passionate about football but here was never any malice in what he had to say.
I know in recent years he didn’t enjoy the best of health but his contribution to Roscommon GAAA was simply immense over 50 years and he was happiest when he was coaching young players. Up to just a few years ago he was working with the Boyle U-14’s. He was into his 80’s at that stage and he loved every minute of it.
To his wife Ann his sons Liam, Joem Sean and Paul, daughters Aileen and Catherine and all his family, and many friends and particularly those in Boyle GAA can I extend my heartfelt sympathy. May his kind and gentle soul rest in peace. RIP
(From The Roscommon People)