The death has been announced of Paddy Prendergast, the last surviving member of Mayo’s last team to reach All-Ireland senior football glory 70 years ago.
The death of this legendary figure, at the age of 95, was confirmed earlier this morning.
Prendergast was the Mayo side-back who lifted Sam Maguire back to back in 1950 and ’51 and had been a staunch follower of his county in all their subsequent woes in Ireland.
The Ballintubber native and former Garda had spent most of his adult life in Tralee, having moved there in the 1960s.
Prendergast had been the last survivor to leave a team that was made even more mythical with the county’s steady build-up of final losses across Ireland, 11 in total since 1989 – including six in the past decade.
Dr Mick Loftus is the last surviving member of the 1951 Mayo panel, although the former GAA chairman was not included in the ruling against Meath.
Prendergast had previously played at the back of the team which lost the 1948 final to Cavan and fulfilled the same role, victoriously, against Louth in 50 and then Meath a year later. He earned the nickname of full-back from Mayo’s “ballet”.
Oddly enough, he had already played senior football for three years with Donegal – where he was stationed in Dungloe – before being called up to play for his hometown.
“I think we had a great team, I didn’t include myself in that, but we had great footballers,” Prendergast said in a 2017 interview with AIB’s GAA blog.
“Padraig Carney, Eamon Mongey, Tom Langan and those, you know. We probably should have won at least four in that span because we were deprived of the first one with a cut short (in the final of 48) and a kick. wind behind us, Peter Quinn’s point not being allowed – and no recovery of the penalty after a glaring foul. These things happen, you know.
The repeated failures of green and red to cross the line since ’51 have fueled the Mayo Curse legend.
According to this highly controversial story, a priest put a curse on Mayo football after the truck carrying the victorious 51 players failed to pay homage to a funeral procession in Foxford. Supposedly, the priest decreed that Mayo would not win another All-Ireland until all of the team members left for their eternal rest.
However, Prendergast’s wife Irene told the Irish Mirror earlier this month, ahead of Mayo’s latest unsuccessful attempt (against Tyrone) to end 70 years of famine across Ireland: ” He doesn’t believe in this curse.
She added, “Of course it would definitely give her more satisfaction to see them do it and, I tell you what, we will celebrate if they win. Paddy said they are a great team and I’m sure they will make it happen.