“The book is personalised quite a lot, people will find out a lot more about me and there is a lot of stuff that would be of interest to Longford people,” commented Eugene McGee ahead of the launch of his new book ‘The GAA In My Time’ on Thursday, October 30.
The legendary Mick O’Dwyer will launch the book, published by Ballpoint Press, at Croke Park and of course, in arguably the most famous All-Ireland senior football championship final of all time, it was Offaly, managed by McGee, who denied Micko’s Kingdom the five in-a-row.
A photograph of the ball that Seamus Darby crashed to the net on Sunday, September 19, 1982 adorns the front cover of Mr McGee’s book and he explained, “That is what I was given by the players and I hope to have it at the launch as well.”
Born in the parish of Colmcille, Eugene is the second youngest of seven children born to Owen and Catherine McGee. He has the distinction of being taught by his father in national school and by his brother, the late Fr Philip McGee, in secondary school. “I had a brother, a priest, and we started secondary school the same day. He started as a teacher and I started as a pupil,” recalled Eugene.
After graduating from UCD, he worked as a columnist for several national newspaper titles and worked as a freelance journalist with the Longford News before joining the Longford Leader. Following a strike at the Leader in 1983 which lasted 38 weeks, Eugene became the new editor and in 1989 he led a management buy-out and became Managing Editor.
“When I took over in November ‘83, I was half famous after winning with Offaly in ’82. I enjoyed my time at the Leader. It was massive job to get it back up and running after the strike but revenue was back in six months. The Leader was always rock solid, had a great reputation and produced a lot of good journalists.”
Regarded as one of the country’s foremost gaelic football analysts, Eugene writes a weekly column for the Irish Independent.
He is also one of the most successful coaches and managers. He guided UCD to six Sigerson Cup victories as well as two Dublin SFC titles and two All-Ireland club titles in 1974 & 75. He later managed Offaly for eight years, leading the ‘Faithful County’ to three Leinster titles and the coveted Sam Maguire Cup in 1982. He managed Ireland in the Compromise Rules International series on two occasions and also managed the Cavan senior football team for four years.
While leading Offaly to the promised land in ‘82 is his greatest achievement, Eugene also regards winning the Longford SFC title with Cashel in 1977 being very special.
His first book ‘Classic Football Matches’ was published in 1993 and in 1996 he wrote ‘St Mel’s of Longford: A History 1865-1990’. “The research for the history of St Mel’s had been done by someone else. Bishop Colm O’Reilly was a friend of mine and anytime I met him he pleaded with me, are you going to get this book in print? I hadn’t much work to do apart from writing it.”
It was former Irish Independent Sports Editor PJ Cunningham, now of Ballpoint Press, that encouraged Eugene to write the book. “He has always been hounding me to write a book and he said if you are ever going to write it, write it now because since the black card came in and all that at least people know you are alive anyway! It was written in about eight months. It didn’t require too much research and it is very much personalised.”