John Moloney - A Tribute
'The rock of the parish is gone', the woman in the pub said to me on Sunday evening as we awaited the arrival of the remains of John Moloney to the Parish Church in Bansha.
His sudden and most unexpected death two days previously had stunned all who knew him. His physical fitness, good life style and active involvement in the community, not only in the parish of Bansha & Kilmoyler but in the wider world also, belied his years.
Reactions to his death were many. A fifty-year old man in Cashel recalled games he played as a young man with John as referee. 'We were in awe of the man and considered it a privilege to have him as referee. When he called us by our names we were amazed that such an important man, who had refereed All-Ireland finals would know our names!'
The man who broke the news of his death to me, Joe Hayes, recalled the famous incident between Cecil Ryan and John at a county championship match in Thurles. 'Was it a shove or an accident?' Joe recalled the 'sensible' way John dealt with it, where another referee might have stood on his dignity and given Cecil the line.
Such behaviour was typical of the man. 'Tom, I saw that,' was a way he often dealt with infringements of the rules. His authority was rarely questioned, his very presence commanding respect. He could combine courtesy to players with firmness in implementing the rules. The fact that he made it his business to know players and call them by their first names gave him some kind of moral control over their behaviour on the field.
Most people are familiar with the statistics of his achievements, five All-Ireland football finals, one hurling, eleven Munster finals. Not many referees perform at the highest level in both hurling and football as John did. On top of a busy inter-county career that straddled the period 1965 to the eighties, John refereed numerous games at club level, from the lowliest to the highest, over an incredible period of five decades until he retired in 2002.
Despite his national profile as a referee, John maintained a close involvement with his club, Galtee Rovers, serving on different occasions as chairman, secretary and treasurer. At the time of his death he was club president. He was a member of the Referees' Association that he helped found, and contributed to the general improvement in refereeing standards.
Probably one of his involvements in recent years that gave him the greatest pleasure was with Cumann na Sean Ghael. A founder member of the body in the county, he saw the need to recognise those who had served the association well during their lifetimes, and who might not have had their contributions recognised. He took great pleasure out of identifying and recognising these people at the annual awards in Bru Boru. He was already at work on the 2006 awards before his untimely death.
John has now joined the ranks of the deceased Sean Ghael and his passing from this life has left a big vacuum in his family, in the parish of Bansha and Kilmoyler, in the wider world of the G.A.A, and in the lives of all who had the privilege to be acquainted with this very distinguished man. Ar dheis lamh De a ainm.
County Senior Football semi-finals program, October 15, 2006