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'One of the greatest footballers of all time' - tributes paid after death of Leitrim GAA legend

Packy McGarty is widely regarded as the best player ever from the county.

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid following the death of Leitrim GAA legend Packy McGarty.

The iconic footballer died last night at the age of 87.

Mohill native McGarty enjoyed a colourful 22-year career with Leitrim, and is widely regarded as the best player ever from the county.

He made his debut at 16, and went to win Railway Cup honours with Connacht and play in six provincial finals — losing five to Galway and one to Mayo — in an inter-county journey that spanned from 1949 to 1971.

“It is with great sadness we learn of the death of Leitrim GAA Legend Packy McGarty RIP. Packy passed to his eternal reward last night,” a lengthy statement from the county reads, with many heartfelt tributes within.

“Packy McGarty, not only one of the greatest Leitrim footballers to put on a county jersey but one of the greatest footballers of all time. Not just because he was a great footballer but because he embodied all that is admirable in human nature – pride of place, utter dedication, an almost fanatical devotion to the cause of Leitrim Football and a complete absence of bitterness.

“Above all, despite all the near misses and litany of disappointments, he retained that youthful enthusiasm that sustained him, year after year for all the 22 years he played inter -county football ( 1949-1971).”

The piece went on to list out his “most memorable majestic displays,” and include information and quotes from newspaper archives, one in particular from journalist Jim Lydon at the 1958 Connacht final reading:

“The wonderful display of Packy McGarty will live long in the memory of the 12,000 spectators fortunate enough to be present. I have never witnessed nor can I ever hope to witness a better individual performance than that turned in by the wonderful Leitrim player. It was indeed a fitting tribute that he should be carried off the field shoulder high at the end of a brilliant game.”

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“On behalf of Leitrim GAA, we extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Ella and the entire McGarty family at their very sad loss,” the statement concludes.

Many more tributes have been paid since, with Emlyn Mulligan adding:

“Sad to hear of the passing of Packy McGarty. Met him on a number of occasions and he was always a gentleman. Heard plenty of stories about his playing days, ‘one of the all time greats’. RIP Packy.”

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Emma Duffy

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