Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Joe Kernan: Monaghan won’t be the same again without McAviney’s camera

When Crossmaglen Rangers landed All Ireland Club titles in 1997, 1999 and 2000, there was obviously much revelry and celebration. After all, the club had scaled a peak that had initially been deemed impossible not once but three times within a four-year spell.

Naturally, everyone was keen to join in the jubilations.

It was only some time afterwards it dawned on me that perhaps we did not possess what might have been regarded as an official pictorial record of the triple achievement. As team manager, I was anxious to unearth a file of pictures that might have done justice to the team’s feats not for self-gratification or indeed collective praise but so that future generations of players might aspire to matching and perhaps bettering the triumphs of the squad.

Question was — just where could a comprehensive photographic record be unearthed?

It was while driving to a match one day that the solution hit me — John McAviney. I knew the personable Ballybay photographer would possess a catalogue of pictures that might fit my bill.

And when I duly arrived with him, he went to great pains to facilitate me. Nothing was too much trouble for him, his attention to detail was hugely impressive and his sheer enthusiasm for his work was almost overpowering.

That is just one of the reasons why I journeyed to his home earlier this week to pay my respects following his untimely passing after a lengthy illness borne with characteristic fortitude. Even though in failing health of late, his passion for gaelic football in general and Monaghan in particular never wavered.

He was an avid follower of his native county, seldom missing a match and always the unofficial cheerleader.

May the sod rest lightly on his gentle soul.

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