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Pádraig Carney: One of the Greats of Gaelic Football

posted Jul 9, 2019, 8:15 AM by Bernard O'Hara

Séamus Murray , chairperson of the
Mayo Association Galway,
making a presentation to Dr Pádraig Carney
at a function in Westport in May 2004
to honour the golden jubilee
Dr Pádraig Carney, ‘The Flying Doctor’ who passed away in San Juan Capistrano, Southern California, on 8 June 2019 at the age of 91, was perhaps County Mayo’s best ever Gaelic footballer and one of the all time greats in the history of the game in Ireland. He wore the green and red senior jersey of his native county with distinction from the age of seventeen in 1945 until his emigration at his prime in 1954 at the age of twenty-six. Mayo County Board brought him back from New York for the Mayo v Dublin National League semi-final on 25 April 1954 (he had emigrated in March) and he captained Mayo to a thrilling 0-11 to 0-7 victory over the favourites, Dublin. Micheál Ó Hehir, the wonderful radio commentator, immortalised Pádraig that day as ‘The Flying Doctor’. He was brought back again for the League final, which Mayo won.
Pádraig Carney won every honour in Gaelic football: two All-Ireland back-to-back senior football medals in 1950 and 1951, four Connacht senior medals 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951, two National League medals 1949 and 1954 and one Connacht Minor, 1946. In addition, he won three Sigerson Cup (for Irish Universities) medals with University College Dublin in 1946, 1947 and 1949 and was captain in 1948. After playing for the Combined Universities in 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951, he was selected for the Rest of Ireland against the Combined Universities in 1952 and 1953. He won a Railway Cup (for Irish provinces) medal with Connacht in 1951, as well as two Mayo senior football championship medals with Castlebar Mitchels in 1951 and 1952 (while working as a doctor in the County Hospital) and a junior championship medal with Charlestown Sarsfields in 1953 (while serving as a doctor in Charlestown). Pádraig Carney was nominated to the Gaelic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2001, when a postage stamp (30p/38c) was issued in his honour on 5 September that year. Seán Flanagan, captain of the Mayo 1950/51 team, in a tribute in 1979 said:
“Pádraig Carney was gifted, fearless and at his best majestic. He combined great strength with the most delicate touch and gained more possession than any of his contemporaries. Of his greatness there is not and never will be any doubt and he is deservedly a legend!”
After emigrating to the USA in 1954, he did postgraduate training at St Claire’s Hospital in New York. Pádraig and his family moved to Detroit, where he undertook four further years of study and training from 1956 to 1959, qualifying as a gynaecologist and obstetrician. After moving to Long Beach, California, he developed a very successful private practice there and quickly established a national reputation in his field. His passing has been widely mourned on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at, or Barnes and Noble
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