North; South; East or West around Ireland.. When Cork were in action.. So was Jonty..
Nothing lasts for ever but from time to time people do lapse in devotion and commitement. Outright devotion is like concrete when it is mixed. It builds houses, monuments and bridges. Only bombs and gelignite can collapse that bond.
Cork's Tim 'Jonty' O'Leary can be compared to the concrete when loyalty to Cork G.A.A. is on the menu. In victory and defeat the rebel colours worn by Jonty floated in the breeze. He didn't seek a hiding place when his beloved Cork lost by a point on the stroke of full time. Even the most ardent of loyal Cork fans, whilst not hiding their rebel colours, were not decked out in such red/white splendour as Jonty. Sport can be cruel and a major defeat is not easy to bear.
Since attending his first All Ireland senior hurling final in 1956 and on a day when Wexford silenced our rebel army, Jonty's claim to attending every final since 1956, mirrors his love of the camán. In 1956 the name Christy Ring was known in every village and town all over the Emerald Isle and on that famous final occasion, Christy was playing for his ninth All Ireland senior hurling medal. And that was decades before the G..A.A. handed out All Ireland medals to Kilkenny hurlers for simply turning up and going through the motions against no hope opponents in Leinster.
The admiration of the teenage Jonty for Ringie could be counted by the bucket full, but after 1956 Jonty and all Cork fans were in a dire famine waiting for a Munster and All Ireland senior hurling title.That did not arrive until 1966 and the explosions of joy released in September 1966 by Jonty and all Cork fans was unprecedented in previous victories. These 1966 scenes of joy bred a whole new generation of Cork G.A.A. fans and foremost leading the rebel army was one Timmy 'Jonty' O'Leary and a galaxy of likeminded rebel fans.
Jonty would have also lived through his teenage years with many heartaches inflicted by our senior footballers inability to cross that vital white line and 1956 and 1957 are still glorious years we remember but alas Sam did not come home to Cork. We can only imagine the immense disapointments of those two football years of '56 and '57 on a young Jonty. Ringie, born in 1920, was moving through his senior years in 1956 but Cork were stagnated and starved of All Ireland glory in both codes. This was the era when the seeds of Cork G.A.A. passion were breeding heavily inside Jonty and patience was an essential tool.Frustrations were rampant and Tipp hurlers were riding high and demoralising Cork fans. If you happened to be courting a Tipp woman from Cappawhite country, which Jonty through the '60's, we can only imagine how he would have worshiped a Cork All Ireland victory.
The good days did outweigh the really bad days and the 3 in a row of the '70's and the historic 1990 double, were responsible for numerous renditions of The Banks by Jonty and friends. But of course this unique Corkman had other loyalties also and the famed St. Finbarr's club gave him countless reasons for many a broad smile in both hurling and football. The Barrs had numerous club legends and Cork had one Really Special Legendary fan, one TIMOTHY 'JONTY' O'LEARY from the southside of Cork city, a fan who stood out in all crowds at all G.A.A. matches and on great social sporting occasions also.
Jonty was great a supporter and important associate of the All Ireland Hall of Fame Tribute Shows and no better act to get our audiences in tandem for a mighty night of celebration. We will miss you Jonty and the roar of the drums to start our tribute shows. May the green grass of Chetwind, Waterfall, rest lightly o'er your place of rest.
Derry JF Doody
Editor @ All Ireland Hall Of Fame Gallery