A tribute to Sean Smyth

The Parish of Skryne and particularly Skryne GFC were plunged into mourning this week on hearing of the sad passing of Séan Smyth (Skryne) after an illness borne with typical determination and without complaint.

Séan is a former Chairperson of Skryne GFC and was instrumental in a  tremendous amount of the improvement work carried out at McManus Park over a long number of years. As far back as 1981 Séan, along with his Committee, set about a major reconstruction of the playing surface on the pitch to include ploughing, levelling, draining and reseeding which also included increasing the size of the playing area to bring it up to a par with any inter county venue in the country. It has stood the test of time and is still one of the best around right up to this day. 

Fast forward twelve years and Sean was at it again – upgrading facilities in McManus Park. This time it was the building of a new Clubhouse, dressing rooms, committee room and kitchen. He encountered some objections to his idea of positioning this new Clubhouse on the opposite side of the field as against close to the entrance where the old one had stood since 1937.

His foresight proved correct and the gleaming new building opened in 1993, with the players exit straight on to the pitch being particularly welcomed by one and all. At that time, apart from Pairc Tailteann, Skryne’s was the only pitch in Meath where the players entered and exited the playing area directly from the changing rooms. 

As well as Chairperson, Séan served Skryne GFC in every position including Secretary, Treasurer, Manager, Selector, Trainer/Coach and Committee member for more than 20 years and continued to help and support the club right up his sad passing this week.

As stated he was Chairperson of the club for a total of nine years. He is the only person to be re-elected to the position on four different occasions. Séan was first elected to the Chair for 1978 and ’79. Re-elected for 3 years 1981, ’82 and ’83. Then after a gap of seven years he became Chairperson for 1991, ’92 and ’93 and finally his last term was 1995. In between those years he acted as Secretary and Treasurer on different occasions. 

On the playing front Séan had a short stay as a footballer but in his early days, ironically, he did win an Under 16 Championship medal with Navan De La Salles on an occasion when Skryne did not field a team. But it was as a Trainer he excelled and he gave unstinted service to the three wise men, namely, his brother-in-Law Jim Hayes, Mick Ryan (senior) and Jim Finnerty who managed the superb underage teams of the seventies. From 1974 to 1977 their teams won all before them including Under 16, 17, 18 (Minor) and under 21 Championships. 

When Séan was elected Chairperson of Skryne GFC he was carrying on a family tradition as his father, Brian, former Headmaster of Scoil Cholmcille, Skryne also served the club as Chairperson for a total of ten years in the 1930s. He preceded and succeeded Fr. Michael McManus in the hot seat of the club. Both Fr. Mc and Brian Smyth were deeply involved in acquiring the field which has been Skryne’s ‘Home’ since the mid 30s and as Fr. McManus was In the Chair at the time the pitch was named after him and McManus Park was born. It was named Grounds of the Year then and this feat has been repeated many times since. 

Séan’s brother-in-Law Jim Hayes, a former Carlow senior player, has also been Chairperson of Skryne GFC while two of his younger brothers, Brian and Dennis have played all grades of football with the Blues, Dennis winning Senior and Junior B Championship and Feis Cup medals in the 60s. Not to be outdone Brian won a Leinster Senior Colleges medal with St. Finians Mullingar in 1960 and played in the All Ireland Final that same year only to be narrowly defeated by a star studded St. Jarleths Tuam team. 

Séan’s two sons Bryan and Niall have kept the Family Connection going and have played for Skryne. Niall has lined out  all grades from underage to senior and played a prominent part in the Under 21 Championship victory over Simonstown in 1995. He also played in the famous Junior Championship Final (proper) of 1997 when Skryne were defeated ‘Very Controversially’ on a scoreline of 0-11 to 0-10  by a strong Bective side. In that same year Niall was on the victorious Skryne Senior B League side which defeated Trim in the final after a replay. 

Séan’s nephews Gerard and Liam Hayes have played all grades of football with the Blues. Gerard won a Feis Cup medal in 1981 and played in the Senior Championship that same year when Skryne were defeated by their old rivals Navan O’Mahonys in the final, after a replay. Liam needs no introduction as he won every honour in the game both with Skryne and Meath. He captained Meath in the famous year of 1991 when the Royals won Leinster after the four match saga with Dublin in the first round. Sadly, Liam and Meath lost out narrowly to Down in the All Ireland Final. He proudly represented Skryne and Meath on the Irish team in the International Rules series in 1984 and 1987 against Australia. 

Séan’s Grandson Shane is currently an active member of Skryne GFC therefore continuing the Smyth family connection with the club right up to the present day, as it has been for over 90 years. 
Séan was predeceased this year by his sister, Sr. Consolata, better known to the people of Skryne as Sr. Carmel Smyth. 

The esteem in which Séan was held in the Parish can be gauged by the number of well wishers who contacted the family and the number of Condolence messages on the website this week. Also when the Skryne Gaelic Club organised a Guard of Honour at his funeral, even with all Covid 19 directives and regulations being adhered to, the road was lined on both sides from the Church right down the hill towards Oberstown. Séan’s coffin was draped in the famous Blue and White colours of his beloved Skryne Club. 

Skryne GFC would like to pass on sincere sympathy to Séan’s wife Mary, his two sons Bryan and Niall. His sisters Mary, Margaret and Emily, his brothers Denis, Patrick and Brian and all of the extended Smyth Family. 

May Séan Rest in Peace. 

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.


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