By Damian Dolan
St Anthony’s GAA Club in Reading will always owe a debt of gratitude to Mick Linehan, says chairman Martin O’Sullivan.
Mick held almost every position at the club including chairman and almost single-handedly kept St Anthony’s going during some difficult times, as well managing it to Junior Championship success in 2005.
Mick was still the club’s Director of Football and a Life President at the time of his passing last week at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. He was 73.
The funeral Mass will take place on Thursday 1st February at 12pm at the church of the English Martyrs in Reading (RG30 2EB). Followed by burial at Henley Road Cemetery, Reading (RG4 5LP).
The funeral Mass will take place on Thursday 1st February at 12pm at the church of the English Martyrs. Followed by burial at Henley Road Cemetery, Reading.
“Without him they’d be no club in Reading today. It’s a legacy that we have to pass on. We couldn’t be more grateful for what he’s done,” said O’Sullivan.
“Mick was Mr St Anthony’s; from representing the club at county board meetings, to getting sponsorship, to putting a team out on the field, he was a really genuine man who kept the club going. He always gave of his time.”
Originally from Crookstown in County Cork, Mick won a Cork county U14 medal with Kilmurry.
He and his wife Ann settled in Reading in the 1960s, where they raised their family. Mick worked in the construction industry and was an active member of the town’s Irish community.
Social Secretary of West Reading Social Club, he used his contacts with bands and musicians to help arrange events to fundraise towards the building of the Reading Irish Centre, which opened in 1986.
It was during the 1980s that Mick became a pivotal member of St Anthony’s GAA club.
“The club went through some tough times in the 1980s and without Mick there wouldn’t be a club in Reading. He kept the ship going when there was nobody else to take on the mantle,” added O’Sullivan.
St Anthony’s County Board representative for many years, Mick was a regular at the board’s monthly Monday night meetings, as well as being a selector for the London Junior team.
“He was always prepared to go to Ruislip and help out in any way. He was very well liked within the county,” said O’Sullivan.
“He loved playing cards, he’d play every Friday night, and he loved the GAA, but he was more local GAA. If Cork was playing, he’d be happier to go to Ruislip and watch a Junior football match.
“Come the All Ireland, whoever was in it, he was always able to procure a ticket for someone who couldn’t get hold of one, and he’d go out of his way to collect that ticket so someone could see their county in an All Ireland final. I’ve heard lots of stories like that about Mick.
“His grandchildren were his pride and joy. He loved going for walks with them, or taking them down to training.”
Mick received an Irish World Award in 2007 for his services to St Anthony’s and the GAA.
A statement on the club’s Facebook called Mick the “heartbeat” of the club. It added: “Mick was often the person ensuring there were 15 lads around to take the field on match days, with his wife Ann ensuring they were smartly kitted out.
Mick Linehan RIP
It’s with immense sadness that we have to relay the news of the passing of one of our Life Presidents and heartbeat of the club Mick Linehan.https://t.co/4ABU12RgkJ
— St Anthony’s GAA (@StAnthonysGAA) January 5, 2018
“Whilst our club are so much poorer for his passing, we are grateful for the fact that we had somebody like him involved for so long.”
St Anthony’s Life President and former chairman Dick Fahy said Mick’s contribution to St Anthony’s was “very big”.
He said: “Mick was terribly dedicated to the club – he did everything possible for St Anthony’s. He respected the players, and the players respected him.
“He’d be at training twice a week and he would ring up everybody two days before a game and make sure everyone was there.
“Mick used to go back to Crookstown every year with his grandchildren, and they were shocked in the town when they heard he’d passed away. He never changed, he was the same man that left all them years ago.
“He also did an awful lot to get the Reading Irish club where it is. He was very important and remained very involved with the Irish club.”
London County Board Chairman John Lacey, said: “On behalf of myself, the London County Board and all the Gaels of London, I’d like to offer our condolences to Mick’s wife Ann and his family.
“Mick was a true gentleman and a great Gael, and will be a massive loss to both St Anthony’s and to London GAA. He was one of the most obliging people you could ever wish to meet and always ready to do a favour.”
Former London County Board Chairman Larry O’Leary, said: “When I was chairman, Mick would give me a lift from Ruislip to Farnborough, even though he lived in Reading. He would go 40 minutes out of his way.
“The club’s dinner-dance was always held in the Irish club in Reading. The first time he invited me down I asked what time he wanted me there and he said ‘the soup will be on the table at 8pm whether you’re there or not’.
“He was a terrific character and always very helpful to any youngster coming over to the Reading area.”
I’m really saddened to hear of the sad passing of the great Mick Linehan from St. Anthony’s GAA Club in Reading UK. Heard so much about him but know he was the heartbeat of a great community and great Club. You will be missed Mick . May you Rest in Peace. @StAnthonysGAA
— Marty Morrissey (@MartyM_RTE) January 5, 2018
RTE’s Marty Morrissey was among those to also pay tribute, tweeting ‘I’m really saddened to hear of the sad passing of the great Mick Linehan from St. Anthony’s GAA Club in Reading UK. Heard so much about him but know he was the heartbeat of a great community and great Club. You will be missed Mick. May you Rest in Peace.’
Mick had one daughter, three sons and two grandsons.