Tributes paid to former Down GAA star Joe Lennon

Former Down GAA star Joe Lennon. Pic by Edward Byrne Photography
Former Down GAA star Joe Lennon. Pic by Edward Byrne Photography

Tributes have been paid to legendary Down GAA star Joe Lennon, who passed away on Wednesday evening.

Mr Lennon, who was aged in his early 80s, was a three-time All-Ireland winner and was also well-known for producing his own coaching manual, Coaching Gaelic Football for Champions.

The former PE teacher, who was from Aghaderg outside Banbridge, helped his team to two consecutive All-Ireland wins in 1960 and 1961. He also captained the team to another All-Ireland success in 1968.

A message posted on the Official Down GAA Facebook page on Wednesday night said: “It is with great sadness that Down GAA have learned this evening of the death of Joe Lennon All Ireland winner in 1960, 61 and captain of our All Ireland winning team of 1968.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Anne and the entire family circle.”

An article on the official GAA website described Mr Lennon as “one of the finest Gaelic footballers of his generation.”

“Not only was he a great player, he was also one of the deepest thinkers on the game of Gaelic Football,” it said.

“He spearheaded the establishment of the first national coaching course in Gormanston College over 50 years ago, and his first book, Coaching Gaelic Football for Champions, was a seminal work.

“In 2000 he was conferred with a PHD in the field of philosophy of sport for his thesis, ‘Towards a philosophy for legislation in Gaelic Games’.

“Truly, Joe Lennon was one of the brightest minds in the history of the GAA,” the article added.

Also paying tribute to Mr Lennon, a post on the Derry GAA Facebook page said: “Derry GAA regret the passing of Down triple All-Ireland winner, Joe Lennon. Following on from our pioneering teams of the late 50s, Joe and his team mates were the first to bring the Sam Maguire Cup across the border and set the bar at that time for the rest of Ulster.

“As proved through his words, acts and deeds, Joe Lennon was at the forefront of thinking about the future of Gaelic football for many decades. We offer our sympathy to Joe’s family, his friends and former colleagues, and all at Down GAA.”