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One of the GAA’s most progressive officials – Miltown’s Noel Walsh dies

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The death has taken place of one of Clare’s best known GAA officials, Noel Walsh from Miltown Malbay.

A member of the Defence Forces, Noel held a variety of posts in the GAA over many years. He won senior championships with his beloved Miltown St. Josephs in 1953 and 1959. He went on to serve his club at every level and he was the club’s delegate to the county board for many years.

He was a passionate supporter of Clare football and served as a county selector at all levels with Clare. He was a member of John Maughan’s selection committee when Clare captured the Munster senior title in 1992, beating Kerry in the final in Limerick. He also served as a selector for Munster in the Railway Cup on numerous occasions.

Walsh was instrumental in the introduction of an open draw for the Munster senior football championship, repeatedly bringing a motion to the Provincial council to bring about the change.For several years, he was a Clare delegate to both Munster and Central Councils for many years.

Noel had the distinction of being Chairman of the Munster Council from 1995 until 1998. He held the post when Clare ended a 63 year wait by winning the Munster senior hurling title in 1995 giving him the honour of presenting the trophy to captain Anthony Daly.

He served as Chairman of the Coaching and Games Development Committee and also Chairman of the Provincial Football Development Committee. He was a member of the Management Committee and Central Council for 3 years, and was Chairman of the Amateur Status Committee.

Noel was appointed Chairman of the National Football Development Committee by then President Joe McDonagh, and was also a member of the Disciplinary Rules Workgroup, the Railway Cup Workgroup and Féile Peil na nÓg Workgroup.

Regarded as a very progressive official, he supported the opening of Croke Park to other codes.

In his youth he was a keen golfer and was a member of both Spanish Point and Lahinch Golf Clubs. He won a President’s Prize at Lahinch in the 60s when he played off a low handicap. He qualified for the South of Ireland championship on a number of occasions.

While he resided in Limerick for many years, he continued to represent his beloved Miltown and Clare on a variety of GAA committees.

Chairperson of Clare GAA, Joe Cooney described Noel as “a leading light”. He said, “To say that Noel gave service to his Club, County, Province and Country would be putting it mildly. He was a leading light in the county of Clare for over five decades. His beloved St Josephs Miltown Malbay were always in his thoughts and this also was vividly correct for his love of his County. Playing and then managing Clare for a number of seasons ended with the most glorious of days in 1992 when his boardroom battles for a Munster open draw ended with Clare taking Munster honours. He served his County at Provincial and National level with much success. Noel’s innovative thoughts allied to a strong determination that the sport and equality for all was always to the fore led him to be one of the most respected administrators in the Association.

“Finally, on my behalf as Clare GAA Chairperson and behalf of the GAA people of Clare, may I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Ursula, son Carl, daughters Lisa and Noelle, grandchildren, close relatives, friends and GAA colleagues everywhere.”

Current Munster Council Chairperson, Liam Lenihan acknowledged the contribution of the West Clare man. “He was a very genuine supporter and one of the people who made the GAA what it is, a Community based Worldwide Organisation that gives people a sense of pride in their own place. His example is being followed today by those helping vulnerable people in their own Communities”.

Noel died peacefully at Ennis General Hospital. He is survived by his wife Ursula, children Carl, Lisa and Noelle, grandchildren Lauren, Lucy and Matthew, daughter in law Brenda, brothers in law Donogh and Roddy O’Loughlin, relatives, Defence Forces colleagues, neighbours and many friends.

In keeping with Government guidelines, Noel’s funeral will be strictly private for family only. A memorial Mass to celebrate Noel’s life will be held at a later date.

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