Philip Mc Guinness 29/02/1984 – 19/04/2010
When Philip Mc Guinness suffered a serious injury last Saturday in a Senior league match against Melvin Gaels, we in Mohill and Kinlough were hoping that he was just concussed and that he would quickly recover. We were very concerned when he was transferred from Sligo Hospital to Beaumont Hospital. On Sunday morning our worst fears were realised when news reached us that Philly suffered horrific brain injuries and was gravely ill. Phillys playing colleagues were devastated, disconsolate and inconsolable. Gloom descended on the whole locality. By lunch hour a convoy of cars bearing Phillys playing colleagues and friends was travelling to Dublin to offer support and comfort and support to Philomena, Phillys lovely gentle mother and to his brothers John and Michael and to visit and bid a last farewell to their injured colleague Philly. In the visiting room beside ICU ward the grief was palpable. One could not but be very impressed with Phillys playing colleagues for their solidarity, support and comforting of the family over the following days. They proved themselves to be young men of great character. A word of thanks to all visitors to the hospital and we are grateful to the members of the Melvin Gaels club who made the journey. Philip Mc Guinness went to his eternal reward on Monday afternoon and his family kindly donated his organs.
How does one pay tribute to Philip Mc Guinness or Philly as he was affectionately known? Philip was held in very high regard by all his team mates and mentors at club and County level.
He was a magnificent footballer. This is hardly surprising considering the sporting environment in which he was reared. His late father was a brilliant ball player as a footballer and hurler and this was acknowledged when Michael Mc Guinness was selected at full forward on the Leitrim Millennium team.
Michael instilled a love of Gaelic sports in his three sons who became great players; each of them wearing the Mohill and Leitrim jersey at all levels with pride and distinction. Philomena offered them great encouragement to develop their skills. The boys had a tyre against the wall and their was daily competition to see who could score most and when young Philly came along he proved to be most competitive.
Two club stalwarts, Tom Lynch and Gerry Bohan introduced Philly to team play at under 12 and 14 with dad Michael lending support. Peter Logan, John Dugdale and myself guided Philly through under 16, minor, under 21 and into senior football. Philly represented Leitrim at all underage levels and was acknowledged as one of the best young talents in the Provence when he was selected on the Connaught under 17 team to tour Australia in 2001.
The study was not neglected and after attending the local national school the three Mc Guinness brothers attended Drumshanbo Vocational school where their father was a brilliant and much loved science teacher. Here Philly continued his football prowess and also became a very accomplished volleyball player winning all Ireland titles with his school. Philly later attended Dublin Institute of Technology and qualified as an Engineer and for a number of years has been a valuable employee of Mercury Engineering based in Belmullet.
You might ask what qualities made Philly such a great player?
Simply he was a born player, a natural, extremely skillful, had perfected all the skills, an excellent two sided player and he had speed, agility, quickness, balance and good vision and was a tremendously brave competitor, displaying a never say die attitude.
I spoke briefly to the Leitrim team Manager Mickey Moran and suggested to him that Philly was a coachs dream, Mickey replied
"You know youd hardly know Philly was in the dressing room, but was transformed when he entered the playing arena"
Philly had a wonderful attitude and the more intensity there was in training the more Philly reveled in it. He was totally dedicated to his training and made the twice weekly journey from Belmullet to where ever Leitrim training took place, be it in Leitrim, Cavan, Mullingar often a round trip of up to 300 miles. His fitness levels were very high, he had a great engine which enabled him to cover acres of ground during games. I think its fair to say that Philly has been Leitrims outstanding performer for the past two years and at 26 years he still hadnt reached his peak – the best had yet to come, he had many years of great football in him. In his last game in the Leitrim jersey against Limerick, Philly was head and shoulders over every other Leitrim player on the field.
The highlight of his club career was probably winning a great County Senior Championship final in 2006. Philly was one of the stars that day and I am delighted that Philly had the memory of that brilliant victory to sustain him during the three and a half years of life left to him. The weight of history was on him that day as it bridged a thirty five year gap to 1971 when his father stared in the last Mohill team to win the Senior Championship.
To his playing colleagues Philly was a priceless treasure; always positive and encouraging, a born leader leading by example at all times and his infectious enthusiasm rubbed off on his colleagues. His commitment to his colleagues was total, unfailing and genuine. He had a tremendous rapport with his colleagues and his personal qualities were such that colleagues and opponents alike forged lasting bonds of friendship with him.
To the youngsters of Mohill and Leitrim Philly was the perfect role model, youngsters adored him, they all wanted to be Philly Mc Guinness.
Although Philly has gone from the sporting arena now, the enormous contribution he made to the GAA in Mohill and Leitrim is a lasting legacy to his memory
Away from the football field Philly was one of the most gracious, gentle and courteous of human beings who had time for everybody. He was shining example to all, his radiant smile, sense of fun and sense of humor endeared him to everybody and our lives have beenÓgreatly enriched by knowing him.
At this stage I would like to extend the clubs sympathy to the Mc Guinness family, to his lovely, gentle mother Phil, to his brothers John and Michael, aunts, uncle and cousins and to ensure them that we are all sharing in your grief and pain and I know that club members will be supportive in the difficult days and weeks and months ahead.
I would like to thank Fr. Hogan, the choir, Coiste Chontae Liatroma members for their outstanding support, the media, the staff of the Cannon Donohue hall, the caterers, members of An Garda Siochana. The support given by all football clubs in the county was heart warming and a great source of comfort to the family. Members of the Mohill club have been brilliant over the last few days in helping out where ever possible.
While mourning our tremendous loss we also celebrate Phillys life and we will always treasure the time we shared with him. We thank him for his friendship and his sporting prowess. The many wonderful memories we have of Philly are now our only consolation.
As we commit Phillys mortal remains to God we know that Philly will always be a football immortal in Mohill and Leitrim through his marvelous achievements on the sporting fields of Leitrim and further afield and for paying the ultimate price for the Gaelic games and the Association he loved so much.
It will take a long time for the people of Mohill and Mohill GAA club to recover from Phillys loss and I have no doubt that the club will honour Philly in some way to perpetuate his memory. Could I humbly suggest that when the remedial work is complete in Mohill GAA park next year it be reopened as The Philly McGuinness Memorial park.
Now as we say goodbye to a magnificent young man, to a prince of Mohill and Leitrim football, we bid farewell with a Shakespearean quote;
"Now cracks a brave heart
Goodnight sweet Prince and flights of Angels lead thee to they rest"
NÍ bheidh do leitheid ann Aris a Philip
Go nDeanidh Dia trocaire ar Do anim Dilis.
26-Apr-10 by Leitirm GAA