Belfast Telegraph

Former parish priest was manager of county teams and a key figure in GAA

Obituary

Fr Sean Hegarty
Fr Sean Hegarty
John Campbell

By John Campbell

The death has occurred of former Armagh gaelic football star and subsequent team manager Fr Sean Hegarty.

A native of Blackwatertown, Fr Hegarty (74) sprang to prominence as a minor player with Armagh before bringing his skills onto the club and county stages.

One of the most gifted players of his era, his silky skills and subtle scoring touch won him many admirers.

He served two stints as team manager of the Orchard County during the 1970s and 1980s before going on to manage Derry for a year in the early 1990s alongside Eamonn Coleman.

It was during his tenure as Armagh manager between 1983 and 1988 that the team reached the Ulster final in 1984 and 1987 but suffered defeat each year. They also reached the then National League final in 1985 in which they were beaten by Monaghan.

During this spell with Armagh, Fr Hegarty had as his assistant the late Eamonn Coleman who masterminded Derry's only All-Ireland title to date in 1993.

When his priestly duties took him to Ballygawley, he found himself involved in the events that led to the formation of the Errigal Ciaran club. He was one of the first people to hold the rank of club chairman and played a major role in getting the club off the ground. It is now one of the most successful in Tyrone.

Last year he celebrated his 40th anniversary as a priest, having originally been a member of the Rosminian Order before switching to parish work.

In the latter connection he served as parish priest of Lissan in Tyrone.

He was well known for his work in the wider community and his wide-ranging interests, with football his chief passion.

Along with the recently deceased John Morrison, Fr Hegarty was noted for several innovative measures aimed at improving Gaelic football.

A lively, outgoing person who possessed a ready sense of humour, he left an imprint wherever his travels took him.

His funeral will take place in St Jarlath's Church, Clonfeacle (Blackwatertown) tomorrow morning - the same church in which he was raised to the priesthood four decades ago.

Fr Sean is survived by his brother Seamus, nieces Clodagh and Colleen and the wider family circle.

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