Jimmy was such a force of nature you’d think there was three of him

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT was October 16, 1989, the night after Sarsfields had claimed only the club’s second ever county senior hurling championship by overcoming Athenry (3-7 to 1-8) at a sodden Loughrea.

Players, mentors – of which I was lucky to be one – and supporters were toasting a hard-earned triumph in Ward’s of Ballyfa. The place was rocking, and Jimmy Cooney was loving every minute of it.

Club chairman David McGann was leading a sing-song and Cooney, in that good-humoured way of his, was going around the place with an outstretched cap pretending to be collecting money for the lead vocalist!

It’s a treasured memory from my three-year coaching association with a great club. Jimmy hadn’t started the county final the previous day but came on with about ten minutes remaining for his injured brother, Pakie.

Though in the twilight of an outstanding career which saw him win two All-Stars awards and a coveted All-Ireland medal with Galway in 1980, Jimmy could still get hot under the collar, and I remember grabbing him by the jersey before he went on urging him to stay cool. He was in the zone but in a positive way.

By the time the final had ended, six Cooney brothers had played a big role in Sarsfields’ carrying the day. It was a magnificent achievement for the family but now, sadly, two of them are gone – the youngest and the oldest.

Peter Cooney passed away in November of 2019 after bravely battling stage 4 cancer and though his family had some time to deal with that shock diagnosis, what happened last Monday week came as a bolt out of the blue. Jimmy’s sudden passing as he tended to his faming duties rocked not just his family and the local community but many acquaintances near and far.

Pictured: A MOMENT IN TIME: The six Cooney brothers celebrate Sarsfields’ All-Ireland Club triumph over Kilmallock of Limerick at Croke Park in March of 1993. At back, Joe, Brendan, Peter and Michael. In front, Jimmy and team captain Pakie. Photo: Stan Shields.

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