The secretary always gets the tough jobs. Just ask Mike O’Riordan in Limerick.
“The senior hurling manager job came up in Limerick a few years back,” says O’Riordan, rúnaí of the Limerick County Board.
“We had the interviews, and then I had to ring around and tell the unsuccessful candidates the bad news — four or five of them. Not a job you’d look forward to.
“I rang Gerry Molyneaux and said, ‘look, Gerry, unfortunately, you weren’t successful on this occasion’ and so on.
“Now, bear in mind I got a fair bollocking in a couple of the earlier phone calls, so I was wary enough. But Gerry said, ‘thanks Mike, no problem, I was delighted to have the chance ’. Top class.”
Molyneaux, who passed away late last month, had a full and varied GAA career.
He was just 60 and had celebrated his birthday with a surprise party last October.
Originally from Knockaderry, Gerry was chairman of the West (Limerick) Board up to his death, having also served as chair, vice-chair, assistant secretary and PRO.
He was a selector with the Limerick minor hurlers who won Munster and All-Ireland titles in 1984 and he then moved on to be part of the back-room team for the successful U21 team of 1987. He also coached teams all over Limerick and Kerry, both in hurling and in football. Molyneaux was Kerry county senior hurling manager in 2006 and brought Lixnaw to the Kerry senior hurling title; he also had a successful spell with Finuge in the Kingdom. He was also manager of the Limerick intermediate hurling team.
However, Munster Council vice-chairman Liam Lenihan remembers him first of all as a player.
“I saw him with Knockaderry in a tournament against Tournafulla, and Gerry was the free-taker. At one stage in the game himself and the corner-back ended up in the river after the ball, so they came out in a fair mess. When the game was over the Knockaderry lads went for a drink in a pub up in the village, a Knockaderry woman had married into Tournafulla so they went in there. There was no sign of Gerry, and it was a while before he turned up.
“When he did pop up though up he was dressed to kill - clothes perfect, hair perfect. ‘I know the people who own the pub,’ he told the lads. ‘They let me have a bath so I could look right for the evening. That was one thing about him on or off the field — he was always dressed well. Everything matched, everything was co-ordinated. The morning of his funeral I was going out the door when my wife said, ‘hey, change your clothes — you have to be dressed properly for Gerry Molyneaux’s funeral’.”
“He was a colourful character,” says O’Riordan. “An absolute character. You couldn’t put him down. One time he was over the Limerick intermediates, who were playing before the seniors in the championship up in Thurles. I was on the senior bus going into St Patrick’s College for their warm-up when I saw Gerry had the intermediates pucking around there. This was half one. ‘Gerry,’ I said, ‘You’re supposed to be playing at two.’
“‘Did you not say half two the other night?’ he said.
“‘No.’ “‘Right lads,’ he said, and all onto the bus and tore off down to Semple Stadium.”
Lenihan chimes in: “He was a very good coach — and an excellent man in the dressing-room to motivate a team. He knew the games inside out and could coach teams to a very high level, but getting them ready for the game, the five minutes before they went out — he was excellent in that environment.”
His knowledge of the game also helped when it came to refereeing. Lenihan cites a strong Limerick tradition of officiating, a standard which Molyneaux upheld.
“He handled an inter-firm All-Ireland, plenty of colleges games, he was a very good referee. There were a couple of reasons why. First, it didn’t matter where he was, what level the game was or where it was, he was absolutely consistent, he always treated the players the same. In addition, he always knew the names of the players. Even if t was a college game with players few enough people knew, he’d take the trouble to find out who they were, and in the game, then, there was no ‘number six come here’ or ‘watch it number 10’. He called the players by their names, and they responded. He rarely had any trouble with them.”
He still had his idiosyncrasies, mind.
“Gerry wouldn’t have put too many players off,” says Lenihan. “The odd time he’d pass a player after an incident in a game and he’d just say to him, ‘I saw what you did’. That was better than a yellow card, because the player knew Gerry was on to him. If he wanted to give a sharper warning his saying was ‘you’ll be sitting down before too long’. They rarely did the same thing again after that.”
Lenihan added: “Family was number one with Gerry. He was very good company, a great friend. I’ve no doubt, by the way, that his last 16 years were among his happiest, because he was doing something he really enjoyed.
“He did a FÁS course in photography and went to work for the West Limerick Observer, and it was the kind of job that suited him down to the ground. He was out and about at events of all kinds, meeting people, talking to them - that was the kind of thing he was brilliant at.”
“There was roguery with Gerry but he’d never let you down,” says O’Riordan.
“Even the time I rang him with the news of the manager’s job that time, there was a bit of a sequel. I told him who’d gotten the job before hanging up, and 10 minutes I got later a call back.
It was Gerry: ‘Is he looking for a selector?’
Gerry Molyneaux is survived by his wife, Bernie and his three daughters, Louise, Cora and Caoimhe.
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