He was one of our greatest

He waited until the last day of the season, one of the best seasons in years, and then made his dignified farewell.

He waited until the last day of the season, one of the best seasons in years, and then made his dignified farewell.

‘He was a class act,’ was just one comment, after the death last Friday of Tommy McConville, one of the town’ finest ambassadors, a gifted footballer, who gave a lifetime of service to Dundalk FC and to the game in general.

In fact, ‘Tommy Mac’was still heavily involved in the beautiful game in recent years, lining out for Dundalk in benefit matches against the likes of a Manchester United Legends XI and managing a local Select XI against the Dundalk first-team last year.

The story about how Tommy didn’t make it to Old Trafford is a legend in itself. Instead, with the arrival of Jim McLaughlin at Oriel Park, after a spell with Shamrock Rovers, he became part of that ‘glorious phase in Dundalk’s history’, as Robbie Rafferty describes it in his brilliant book, Stars of the Summer League.

Tommy, along with Joey Donnelly, Billy O’Neill, Jimmy McArdle, Tom Crawley, Francie Callan, Joe Martin, John Murphy, Cathal Muckian, and of course, Tommy’s brother, Brian McConville, was one of those great players who started in the Summer League.

His time with Dundalk saw the great European ties, the games against Liverpool, Spurs, PSV Eindhoven, Rangers, and the famous run in 1979 when the town beat Reykjavik of Iceland, Linfield, Hibernian of Malta, and then a 3-2 thriller against Glasgow Celtic at Parkhead, the scoreless draw at home and Tommy’s famous late miss. He had an international career and five years in America. And then he returned to Dundalk tohelp Park Celtic win Summer League titles.

A class act indeed.