Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon legend Maurice McVeigh passes away at 91

Hero: Maurice McVeigh
Hero: Maurice McVeigh
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

One of the greatest footballers to have played in the Irish League has passed away at the age of 91.

Glenavon hero Maurice McVeigh, who helped the Mid Ulster club become the first team to take the Gibson Cup out of Belfast in the 1951/52 season, died on Saturday.

The Templepatrick man was instrumental in the Mourneview Park side's greatest ever period.

After joining Glenavon from Distillery Seconds in 1948, Mr McVeigh played alongside two of the club's most famous names - Northern Ireland internationals Wilbur Cush and Jimmy Jones.

During his time at Mourneview the wing wizard won two league titles, two Irish Cups and a host of other honours. He was also named Ulster Footballer of the Year in 1955.

Glenavon welcomed Mr McVeigh and his family to Mourneview Park as special guests for their league game against Dungannon Swifts in September 2018 as he celebrated his 90th birthday.

It was only his second visit to the club since his last game for the Lurgan Blues at Christmas 1960.

He previously made an appearance for Glenavon during a charity match against a showbiz team in 1973. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph during his 90th birthday celebrations, Mr McVeigh still felt the Glenavon side of the Fifties was the best the club ever had.

"They were fantastic years and it was a joy to play in those days with some wonderful friends and great talent," he said.

"I can remember playing the matches, then rushing out to the shop to get Ireland's Saturday Night to see if I'd got a mention. There was a fantastic atmosphere around the club."

He added: "I'd been thinking I hadn't been back to Glenavon since I stopped playing, but a photograph shows me and a few others, albeit a little more padded, lining up against a showbiz team. I'd forgotten all about that."

Multi-honoured at representative level, Mr McVeigh played for the Irish League and Ireland at amateur level.

In any other era international honours would have followed, but he faced competition in his position from star names like Billy Bingham, Peter McParland and Charlie Tully.

Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer described Mr McVeigh as one of the finest and most skilful players of his generation and an "absolute gentleman".

"He was a member of the great Glenavon side of the Fifties," he said.

"We had the pleasure of hosting Maurice and his family in September 2018 to commemorate his 90th birthday.

"He really, really enjoyed the day and was flattered that, 50 years on, he was still fondly remembered and a lot of older supporters were invited in to meet him.

"He was overwhelmed by the whole occasion and was as bright as a button."

In a tribute, Glenavon FC described Mr McVeigh as "a supremely talented individual" and a club legend.

Mr McVeigh is survived by his daughter Alison, son Maurice and his two grandchildren.

A service of thanksgiving will be held tomorrow in Templepatrick Presbyterian Church at 11am. Burial will follow in Roselawn Cemetery at 2pm.

Belfast Telegraph

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