Death of Frankie Byrne, last remaining Meath '49er

Story by John Donohoe

Friday, 8th February, 2019 8:00pm

Death of Frankie Byrne, last remaining Meath '49er

The late Frankie Byrne.

The death has occurred of the last surviving member of Meath's 1949 All Ireland-winning senior football team, Frankie Byrne. Mr Byrne, who was 94, lived in Clontarf in Dublin. He was a native of Navan and played for Navan O'Mahonys.

Frankie Byrne played on the Meath team between 1943 and '55, lining out for Leinster a number of times during those years, was part of another golden era for Royal County football when part of Sean Boylan's backroom team, and was involved in the launching of national GAA coaching in the '70s and was part of Jimmy Magee's All Stars for 30 years.

He also played minor hurling for Meath - which began while attending the old De La Salle school in Navan.

Young Byrne played club football with Erin's Hope in Dublin while training to be a school teacher and then with Navan Parnells and was only 19 when first catching the attention of the Meath senior selectors. He made his Leinster SFC debut at centre field against Louth in Drogheda in 1943. 

Frankie Byrne played with four clubs. He gained Meath SFC honours with Parnells in 1946, lined out with Clan na Gael in Dublin for a few years and was on the Navan O'Mahonys team which became the first holders of the Keegan Cup in 1953.

Byrne won his first Leinster medal in 1947 when Laois were defeated in the final.  Although he played a significant role in the 1-10 to 1-6 final victory over Cavan in the 1949 All Ireland senior football final, in which he converted four frees, he did not see the last 10 minutes of the game. Instead he was in the dressing-room being treated for an injury to his spine sustained in a collision with direct opponent Simon Deignan in the first half. 

In 1953 Byrne was in the usual right half-forward position when Navan O'Mahonys defeated Trim to become the first holders of the Keegan Cup. He pointed five frees in the 3-7 to 2-4 victory. He became a county selector that year and had retired from inter-county before being drafted into the squad in Meath's second All-Ireland winning year in 1954.

Frankie soon quit his role as a selector, saying that he wasn't at much club football in Meath, as he lived in Dublin. However, he did train the Meath team which won the All-Ireland minor title for the first time in 1957 and also held the position of Leinster Council delegate for four years in the '50s.
In the 1970s when the GAA began to put more emphasis on coaching, Byrne became part of the coaching squad with other notables like Jim McKeever (Derry), Joe Lennon (Down) and Dr Mick Loftus (Mayo). Frankie became part of Sean Boylan's backroom team in the '80 and '90s. 

Franke Byrne died peacefully earlier today at the Little Sisters of the Poor, Sacred Heart Residence, Sybil Hill.
Predeceased by son, Patrick, he is survived by his wife, Rita, and family Paul, Frankie, Ursula, Deirdre, Marc; sisters, Ursula, Pauline, May and Nancy, brother Leonard, grandchildren Leanna, Caoimhe, Naoise, Caelinn, Sonny, Daniel, Mollyann, Adam, Lara, Laura and Michelle, great grand children Sebastian, Sadhbh, Diarmuid, Sienna and Phoebe, all in-laws, relatives and friends.
 
He will repose at Sacred Heart Residence, Sybil Hill, on Monday, February 11th, from 4pm to 6pm. Funeral Mass  is on Tuesday morning in St John the Baptist Church, Clontarf Road, Dublin, at 10am, followed by burial in St Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton.

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