By Pierce O’Reilly
It probably will never appear as a question on the TV hit-show " Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," but to GAA fans in New York, the question of who’s the present longest serving senior footballer in the city is important. Leitrim’s Sean Jones — if not the recipient — is definitely in the reckoning. Leitrim GFC have broken a good few records in the past and it surprises few that they now claim that "Jonsey," their ever green stalwart, is the longest-serving GAA player at the Bronx headquaters.
Jones has been gracing the hardened sod of Gaelic Park since 1978 and is one of the city’s best-known players. It’s fitting therefore that the Connaught club are honoring the Derrgonnelly man with the Player of the Year award at their annual Dinner Dance at M’stro’s, Morris Park, on Saturday, Jan. 27.
Leitrim GFC aren’t used to honoring Fermanagh men but Jonsey is deserving of the distinction. He has proved that the modern game isn’t just for the new kids on the block and that one’s "gra" for the game doesn’t die when the legs give in a little.
Jones isn’t the young star he was in the mid-’80s yet his silk skills have waned little over the years. Jones originally played with Cavan, then Armagh, Monaghan, Tyrone and last he turned to Lovely Leitrim. He has won numerous senior championship medals as well as donning the County jersey for New York in 1984 with distinction.
Jones has always tried to help develop the game over the years and as one of the top referees in the Big Apple he’s always on hand to put players throught their paces.
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The guest of honor at the Leitrim dance this year is Paddy Gormley a native of Aughnasheelin, Co. Leitrim. Gormley has been deeply involved with the GAA since the early ’70s and has a colorful playing career with Leitrim, Sligo and Rockland.
Paddy also wore the county jersey in the early 1980s when he lined out in the Gael Linn cup. Since his retirement he has been a GAA official at different levels.
The Joe McInerney Memorial Award this year goes to Joe Taylor, Eslin, Mohill. The award is presented annually in memory of the late Joe McInerney, who died in 1998. The award symbolizes loyalty and love of Leitrim football, both here and in Ireland.
Taylor, a star forward from the ’50s and ’60s, won a senior championship medal in 1958. He is one of the best known and popular Leitrim men in New York and if a fitting recipient of the award. He is president of the Leitrim Society and a great booster and advocate for the Leitrim club. Since retiring, he has been busy in the bunkers on the golf course trying to lower his handicap.