Columba Cryan – Legendary Leitrim Footballer – ar shlí na Firinne 

Columba Cryan, a legendary figure on the Ballinamore and Leitrim football scene in the 1950s, passed away today, 5 May 2024.

Throughout 1950s, Columba was recognised one of Leitrim’s finest players, playing either at midfield or full forward. In 1952, Leitrim regraded to Junior, meaning that they opted out of the senior championship to concentrate on junior. It was a move which paid off as they won the Connacht Junior title. The All-Ireland semi-final was played in Pairc Sheáin Ui Eislin, before a reputed 5,000 attendance and, with Columba Cryan at full forward, Leitrim defeated Tipperary by 2-5 to 0-5. The final against Meath was in Breffni Park, but Leitrim lost.

Ten years later, in 1962, Leitrim again won the Connacht Junior title and Columba Cryan won his second Connacht Junior medal.

However, it was at senior level that Columba made his name as an outstanding player for Leitrim. In that glorious period (1957-1960) when Leitrim played in four Connacht finals in a row, all against Galway, Columba was a central figure in all of them. The nearest Leitrim got was to lose by two points in 1958, when Columba shaved the upright in the dying minutes. Columba’s brother-in-law, Leo Heslin from Aughavas, was a teammate on the Leitrim team in those years.

Leitrim’s most successful year ever, at National League level, came in 1959, when they reached the semi final, at a time when there were no divisions based on strength. Leitrim lost to Derry in Croke Park on that occasion, the only time Columba Cryan lined out for Leitrim in Pairc an Chrócaigh.

Ballinamore won the Senior Championship in 1956, largely due to a great midfield pairing of Columba Cryan and Brian Sweeney.  For many many years, Columba and Brian travelled to matches together, no doubt reliving the great games they played together. Columba was captain of that 1956 winning team and his brother Josie was centre-half back.

Columba was the only Ballinamore player to possess a coveted Railway Cup medal. He was on the Connacht panel when they won in the years 1957 and 1958.

Our sympathy to Columba’s wife, Kay, to his daughters, Fiona, Síne, Lisa, Pam and son Columba.

Suaimhneas na bhFlaitheas do cheann de na peileadóirí ab fhearr a d’imir le Liatroim agus cumann Sheáin Úi Eislin, Béal an Átha Móir.


Reposing on Monday, 6th May, at Smith’s Funeral Home, High St., Ballinamore, N41 TD62, from 4pm until 6.30pm. Removal on Tuesday, 7th May, from his home to arrive at St. Patrick’s Church, Ballinamore, for Funeral Mass at 12 noon. Burial afterwards in Oughteragh Cemetery, Ballinamore.

Ballinamore team, Leitrim Senior Champions 1956, captained by Columba Cryan