Tom Lof­tus gave life­time of ser­vice to GAA

Bray People - - SPORT -

ONE OF the gi­ants of the GAA, Tom Lof­tus was laid to rest in Spring­field Ceme­tery, Bray on Wed­nes­day and was ac­corded a send off be­fit­ting a man of his stature, writesPeterKeogh.

In a mov­ing tribute to his great friend, Tom Walsh of Bray said that Tom had served the GAA loy­ally for over SEVENTY FIVE years.

While that may ap­pear an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to a ca­sual ac­quain­tance, it was in­deed true. From the first time Tom kicked a ball along the streets of his na­tive Roscommon town, to the time, just a short few years ago when he signed his last minute book as sec­re­tary of the North/East Ju­ve­nile Board in Wick­low, Tom's great love and loy­alty was the GAA.

His job with the ESB brought him to Dublin at an early stage where he threw in his lot with Foxrock Geraldines. At the end of his play­ing days, or even be­fore, he be­came a prom­i­nent ref­eree. Tom, who never drove a car, reg­u­larly cy­cled to venues in the south of the county likeTal­laght or Sag­gart to do a morn­ing match. Af­ter lunch he would cy­cle to the north of the county to do an­other match.

Tom joined the Dublin Ju­nior Board in 1940; be­came Vice Chair­man in '47; Sec­re­tary from '48 to 57; Trea­surer from '57 to 61 and Chair­man of the County Board from 61 to '68.

In his time as Chair­man of the County Board in the 1960's he was the man at the helm when the metropoli­tans con­tested their last All-Ire­land fi­nal in hurl­ing and when they won the Sam Maguire Cup in 1963. He was Dublin's rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Le­in­ster Coun­cil for 25 years.

He was elected Vice Chair­man of the Coun­cil at the 1969 Con­ven­tion held in the Ark­low Bay Ho­tel and served as Chair­man from 1972 to '74.

Tom was also a can­di­date for the Pres­i­dency of the As­so­ci­a­tion, in fact Jackie Napier, a great ad­mirer of Tom even be­fore he came to live in Wick­low, tells of how on that oc­ca­sion he drove to Gal­way to vote for the man even though he had to rush back for his own wed­ding the next morn­ing.

Tom held many other im­por­tant po­si­tions at all lev­els. He trav­elled with the All Stars to San Fran­cisco in 1973. When Tom came to live in re­tire­ment in Bray he straight away looked around for ways to be­come in­volved in GAA af­fairs again but far from seek­ing the limelight picked a job where he could be of most as­sis­tance.

He linked up with the Bray Em­mets Club and the North Ju­ve­nile Board and spent over 20 years pro­mot­ing the game at that level, first as chair­man but then in the more hands-on job of sec­re­tary. That was what made Tom Lof­tus stand out from the pack.

Le­in­ster Coun­cil gave their for­mer Pres­i­dent a great send off. A guard of hon­our of Coun­cil mem­bers flanked one side of the hearse while the Bray Em­mets Club marched on the other side. Cen­tral Coun­cil were rep­re­sented by Tom Ryan and Jackie Napier while Wick­low County Board and Dublin County Board were also well rep­re­sented at the grave­side. The present Chair­man of Le­in­ster Coun­cil Martin Skelly gave the grave­side ora­tion while the ser­vice was con­ducted by Mons. John O'Con­nell, re­tired P.P of Bray.

Le­in­ster Coun­cil's Chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael De­laney, out­go­ing Chair­man Shea­mus Howlin, for­mer Chair­men Jim Berry, Al­bert Fal­lon and Sea­mus Aldridge, PRO J.J.Walsh and Pat Toner, Trea­surer were among the other mem­bers present.

The great­est mo­ment of all came when his great friend and loyal com­pan­ion Tom Walsh sang 'The West Awake' as a fi­nal salute to a great Con­naught man.

Will we ever see his like again?

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