Bertie Cunningham – R.I.P.

Just weeks after his team Captain Peter Darby, Bertie Cunningham has sadly become the latest one of Meath’s 1967 All Ireland heroes to be called ashore to the great stadium above. He was 81.

Right from the off here it will be admitted that I am not in the best position to put proper tribute to the great man but, as is always the case in these situations, an attempt will be made on the strength of what is known.

Bertie Cunningham is assured of a unique place in the annals of this county’s sporting history. Being the only member of the 1957 All Ireland Minor winning team to go on and collect a similar accolade when Cork were defeated a decade later.

Indeed, it probably underlines just how pivotal he was to the ’67 success that he was awarded a Texaco Sportstar Of The Year award that season. Though even all of that would only tell a fraction of his story. He was also the winner of Leinster SFC mementos in 1964, ’66 and ’70 and was of course part of the Royal County group which toured Australia in 1968.

The late Bertie Cunningham

Very recently in this space, mention was made of the storied tradition Meath can boast of producing some of the finest full backs football has seen. Paddy O’Brien, Jack Quinn, Mick Lyons, Darren Fay and Kevin Reilly. The same can also be said when it comes to the number six jersey. Paddy Dixon, Jim Reilly, Liam Harnan, Enda McManus and – in the present day – Donal Keogan.

More seasoned and qualified observers than I, however, considered Bertie the best of them all. Quite a statement in itself. May he rest in peace.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: