By Jimmy Rhatigan
IT WAS a fascinating and at times emotional occasion.
A Gaelic Games guru who went to his local GAA club to officially open a state of the art astroturf pitch ended up under the bright lights himself.
It took a bit of doing but the always alert and very clever Ned Quinn, one of the great cornerstones of Kilkenny GAA, was for once caught napping.
Ned, who played for Mooncoin as a boy, went on to hurl at adult level and held several management roles in the club, enjoyed an U6 exhibition by local children.
He then said his piece, praised players and officials of the club for their great initiative and cut a ribbon to declare the new billiard table-like facility officially open.
Club chair Jimmy Holden applauded those who help to make Mooncoin GAA tick and Kilkenny County Board chair Jimmy Walsh, a Windgap clubman, was generous with words of wisdom and acclaim.
Lashing rain dictated that the big parish event was held indoors so it was in the community hall where the village’s best or worst kept secret was finally for everyone’s ears instead of being whispered.
Ned, assuming he had not already breached the cone of silence, must quickly have twigged that there was something afoot as his entire family was among the big attendance.
There to share Ned’s joy were his wife Lucy and children Billy, Eimear and Orla.
The greater Mooncoin GAA family was there to say ‘thank you’ to a local son for his fantastic contribution to his beloved local club and indeed for his Herculean efforts for GAA in Kilkenny City and County.
In support too was fellow county board official of another time Paul Kinsella, along with Kilkenny senior hurling team trainer Michael Dempsey and James Stephens and Kilkenny hurling hero Phil ‘Fan’ Larkin.
Jimmy Holden presented Ned with a framed photograph of Nowlan Park, taken during a game, with a black and amber jersey on one side and the famed green with white sash Mooncoin jersey on the other.
Inset is a picture of the magnificent Mooncoin GAA Complex.
Passionate club official Joe Dunphy who captained Kilkenny minor hurlers in All-Ireland back to back wins in 1961 and 1962 was delighted that Ned was honoured.
He told The Reporter that the framed masterpiece was really apt as Ned can hang it in his home and treasure it for the rest of his sporting years.
The get-together as a function to honour Ned’s achievements with the county board where he was secretary and chairman at different times, to acknowledge his huge contribution to his home club and to confirm on him honorary life membership of Mooncoin GAA Club.
Joe said he believed Ned would have made a great president of the Gaelic Athletic Association as he was one of the best officials he had ever heard addressing a crowd.
President Ned has a nice ring to it.
Perhaps there is another secret under the surface?
We cannot ascertain if the song The Mighty Quinn was blasted out during the tribute evening.
The Manfred Mann number written by Bob Dylan would surely have been apt.
Come on without, come on within, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Like the Mighty Quinn.