THE LATE PAT CLARKE (Clontibret).
It was with profound regret and a sense of deep loss that the news of the death of Pat Clarke on Wednesday morning last, June 22nd was received and with his passing the GAA in his native Clontibret and in county Monaghan has lost one of its all-time greats. His passing also severs another link with the great team of 1956 that won the All Ireland junior football championship and as captain of that team Pat Clarke has a special place in history and folklore of the game in the county. Pat first came to prominence as a member of the Clontibret O’Neills team that won the Monaghan junior football championship in 1947, a victory that put the fledgeling Clontibret club into senior ranks where they made quite an impression over the following two decades. Clontibret made the breakthrough for a first ever senior football championship title in 1949 with Pat Clark playing at right half forward on the team that defeated Carrickmacross by 0-11 to 2-3 in the final. Clontibret went on to add senior football championship titles in 1950, 1951 and 1952, thereby completing an historic four in a row with Pat Clarke’s name ever present. They put titles back-to-back in 1955 and 1956 and while missing out in 1957 they were again back at the top in 1958 making for a collection of seven senior championship medals for Pat Clarke. As well as that success at championship level Pat Clarke won senior football league medals in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1957 as well as Hackett Cup medals in 1950 and 1952. His greatest hour though and his most cherished memory was as captain of the Monaghan junior team in 1956 that won provincial and All Ireland honours, defeating Kildare in the home All Ireland final of the championship and London in the All Ireland final proper, that game taking place in Carrickmacross. Pat went on to represent the county at senior level and his contribution to the game at county level was recognised when he was inducted into the Monaghan GAA Hall of Fame in 1998. He was a special guest of Monaghan County Board at their Millennium Banquet on December 29th, 1999 when special presentations were made to men who had captained Monaghan teams to national titles. He also represented Monaghan at the special parade of past greats at the Ulster Centenary championship final in 2003 and was again the chief guest at a special 50th anniversary celebration of the 1956 All Ireland championship success back in 2006. Right up until very recently Pat Clarke maintained a keen interest in the affairs of Clontibret O’Neills and the Monaghan county team and liked nothing better than discussing matches and making comparisons with how things were in the 40s, 50s and 60s. A dedicated family man and a gentleman to his fingertips he only ever saw the positive in what people, whether players, team managers or selectors were trying to do and his passing robs, not only his immediate family, but his extended family in both Clontibret and Monaghan of one of its most respected figures. Ta tu imithe uainn ach bedh tu linn go deo, a Phadraig agus go ndeanaigh Dia trocaire ar do anam. (JP Graham).