Untimely passing of Galway Hurling Board Treasurer
It was a measure of how much Tony Dervan loved Galway hurling that he defied medical opinion to leave his sick bed in Galway in order to fly to Dublin to see his county contest last month’s All-Ireland Finals at Croke Park.
He startled the helicopter pilot who arrived at University College Hospital, to transport him to the capital that Saturday afternoon. Which hospital was he going to, the man wanted to know.
“Hospital! What hospital? I’m going to Croke Park”, said the Galway Hurling Board Treasurer, who was a guest of the GAA President, Sean Kelly, in the Presidential Box in the Hogan Stand the following day.
His beloved Killimor Club
Dervan, who became Treasurer five years ago, had been a delegate for his beloved Killimor Club for a decade and a half. He took great enjoyment from the progress the county’s minors, seniors, and U21s made, in reaching the finals during a difficult summer in which he fought bravely against his terminal illness.
He was so close to the Galway players that four members of the Senior Panel visited him on the day he died. They were regular visitors at UCHG. The team captain, Liam Donoghue, rang him from the Galway dressing room after the side’s thrilling Semi-Final win over Kilkenny in August, described by many as the best game of hurling ever seen..
Dervan, despite his illness, was determined not to miss out on Galway hurling’s biggest day in four years and it reflected his ‘ never say never’ attitude that he made it to Croke Park just a month before his passing, at 56 years of age, last Friday.
The senior county players formed a Guard of Honour at the church in Killimor last Sunday night and a sliotar, hurley, and Galway jersey were offered up as gifts, to reflect his love of the game.
Superb redevelopment of the Club’s grounds
It was in his native Killimor that he first came to prominence in the GAA two and half decades ago, becoming the driving force at the Club. He was the main figure behind the superb redevelopment of the Club’s grounds in the 1980s and was highly regarded for his fundraising, organisational skills, and the way he looked after the needs of young players.
Dervan was an optimist who had no time for negativity and continued to push projects forward in the community even when people said they couldn’t be done. He helped set up the Community Employment Scheme in the parish, as well as developing a leisure facility on the Club’s grounds.
In 1991, he took over the management of the Club’s Intermediate team on the night when the entire back-room team resigned ‘enmasse,’ following a demoralising defeat. Later that night, at 2 a.m. to be precise, he told the Club Chairman, Jimmy McClearn, and Pakie Moran over a few drinks, that he appointed them as selectors. They were shocked. But they didn’t have a chance to turn him down and the following morning the three of them picked a team which went all the way to the County Final, only to lose to Padraig Pearses in a replay.
He earned a growing reputation for looking after young teams and as a result, the then Galway Minor manager, John Fahey, brought him in as a selector for two years in the early 1990s. Fahey, now Hurling Board Secretary, said the regard in which he was held by the current Galway players was reflected in the presence of every one of them in Killimor last Saturday night.
A major loss
The former Secretary, Phelim Murphy, said the Killimor delegate was a “good lad who got on well with everyone”, who proved a popular choice for Treasurer when he was elected to the position five years ago. “It’s a major loss to everyone in Galway hurling, he suffered a lot but still managed to stay very positive right to the end”, said Murphy. He was fortunate enough to have his birthday on December 25th, so every year the Christmas parties at Dervan’s were legendary. Around Killimor, nobody ever dared to tell him something couldn’t be done.
Dervan, who was at the heart of virtually every development in Killimor for the past twenty five years, is survived by his wife Rose, daughter Sinead, son-in-law Des, grand-daughter Ailbhe, his extended family and a wide circle of friends.
His memorial plaque in Killimor GAA Pitch reads:
Tony Dervan 1948-2005
Treasurer Galway Hurling Board 2001-2005
Treasurer Killimor GAA Club 1985-2005
In recognition of his work, for his dedication
to club and county.
A leithead ní bheidh ann arís.