Cooney hails ‘passionate’ Donal Coleman

Cork GAA personality Donal ‘Donie’ Donal, whose death has occurred, was described yesterday by former GAA president Christy Cooney as "an administrator second to none".

He was a member of the well-known Ballinhassig family — older brother Martin was three-in-a-row goalkeeper — and served as development officer of Cork County Board before being elected vice chairman in 1994, when Cooney became chairman.

Recalling that he had opted out after two years, Cooney said: “Only for his decision and his business commitments, he would have made an outstanding chairman.

“He was a tremendous guy to work with, passionate about Ballinhassig hurling, Carrigdoun hurling and Cork hurling, and part of a family that has given great service and continues to do so. Because of his interest in politics, I called him ‘Senator’ one night. It was an affectionate term and stuck like glue!”

In 1965, he captained Ballinhassig to a first county championship success in junior hurling, when he was club secretary. They defeated Brian Dillons 6-5 to 1-2 in Carrigaline on December 21 and brothers John Kevin and Derry were also members of that team. John Kevin won an All-Ireland intermediate medal the same year and, with Derry, was on the losing team in the final two years later. Martin and Brendan (his twin) won All-Ireland U21 medals together in 1971, while Brendan won an All-Ireland junior medal in 1983 and was part of the Cork senior squad.

Donie was a selector with Cork teams which won Munster U21 hurling titles in 1991 and 1993 and represented the club on the county board. Martin also served as a selector and was part of the senior management with the All-Ireland winning team of 1990.

Predeceased by his brothers Pearse and Declan, he is survived by John Kevin, Derry, Martin and Brendan, his sister Rita, wife Mary, son Diarmuid and daughters Catherine, Elmarie and Marita.

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