Sunday, 10 April 2022 19:06

PACKY McGARTY of LEITRIM.. All Ireland Hall Of Fame Induction & Tribute

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Packy McGarty Leitrim's greatest ever footballer. However I never saw the Leitrim gael kick a ball simply because we were a generation apart.He was a man who remained ever loyal to the north west county of Leitrim.

Leitrim can claim two Connacht Senior Football Championship titles; in 1927 and the historic 1994 title victory, when Mayoman, JOHN O’MAHONY, surpassed all expectations by guiding Leitrim to a fabulous achievement in gaelic football history. The 1927 champion team had players such as Tom Gannon, who had the honour of captaincy, Ned Dolan, Willie Martin, "Nipper" Shanley, Peter Blessing, Paddy Carey and Jack Bohan. These former Leitrim icons are still revered.

“As Long As A Leather Boot Connects With A Leather Football – The Story Of Leitrim’s Packy McGarty Will Be Told”

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When Packy McGarty first emerged for Leitrim, he could have been stated to be the “NEW BOY WONDER OF GAELIC FOOTBALL” and he played at left corner forward on the Leitrim team that reached the 1952 All Ireland Junior Football “HOME” final losing to Meath and Packy was still a minor. Born in 1933 in Garvagh on the shoulders of Mohill, in 1943 he played a major role as Mohill claimed a county under 14 football title. He progressed to win two Leitrim minor county football titles and Leitrim fans witnessed Packy playing senior for the county before he made his minor debut.

The senior debut was a National Football League game versus Offaly in Mohill late 1950. Leitrim football was in dire straits and they could only assemble fourteen players. Circumstances meant the selectors called on a sprightly youth who was distinguishing himself in the pre-match kick about, very much a feature back then.

Packy McGarty was surprised, but thrilled, when handed a senior jersey which he pulled on over his clothes and in the course of that unusual debut v the Faithful county of Offaly, the great Packy scored one goal and a point. This was the legendary Packie's first appearance in a Leitrim jersey and he never looked back after that, giving extensive and loyal service to his county in a football life span of 22 years; 1949 – 1971.

Packy was at one time quoted as saying "No matter where I am, I will never play for any county only Leitrim as long as they will have me.

Winning is not everything - Not for anything would I part from my Leitrim team mates.


Starring in the Connacht Senior Football Championship was a natural progression for Packy and the Connacht Railway Cup selectors called him into the provincial jersey for the first time in 1954 whilst working in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, aged just nineteen. His provincial debut meant travelling from the top of Ulster to the heartland of gaelic football at Tralee, Co.Kerry to challenge a Munster team built around legendary Kingdom footballers. Little was expected of the diminutive Mohill man, especially as his direct opponent would be Kerry’s 1953 All Ireland winning captain, James Murphy. Connacht and a young Packie McGarty, scoring 1-4; inflicted a rare defeat on Munster in their own backyard.

Many decades later recalling his Connacht debut, Packy is quoted as stating “my most enjoyable game was the 1954 Railway Cup semi-final against Munster in Tralee - my first match for Connacht. I was working in Letterkenny at the time and on the journey to Tralee, I was overawed with the prospect of playing with forwards like Padraic Carney, Sean Purcell, John Nallen, Tom Langan and Eamonn Donoghoe. I felt I would be completely out of my class. And to be marking a giant of a man like James Murphy really made me feel it was all up with me. I must pay tribute to the big Kerryman, although he had all the physical advantages, he played me fairly and squarely like a sportsman. I had worried I might let Connacht and Leitrim down, but Padraic Carney brought me into the game and I could scarcely believe afterwards that I had scored 1-4. We won and I was on my way to Croke Park for the first time."


Packy was to go on to play for Connacht for many years, winning Railway Cup medals in 1957 and 1958 as a player and in 1967 as a substitute. In the 1958 semi-final versus Leinster in Balinasloe, Leitrim players, Packy and Cathal Flynn between them, shot 1-9 out of 1-11 of Connacht's total - a remarkable contribution from this footballing duet. Packy was selected for Ireland in the Annual Representative game versus the Combined Universities for three successive years. Years afterwards, he was honoured with Leitrim's G.A.A. Hall of Fame Award.

In one of many references to Packie’s skill levels, an opponent stated… “he had the elasticity of a rubber ball, could turn on a sixpence, was an impeccable sportsman, kept coming at you toe to hand, was indomitable, irrepressible, a born footballer”. 1958 was his greatest honour and in one inter county encounter, recalling an incident from that game, McGarty was bottled up by two immense footballers. Both opponents believed they had taken him out, he was done for the day, but he bounced up from being winded to take the free, got on with the game and played the game of his life.

For most of his footballing life, the genius McGarty lived outside of Co. Leitrim in Dublin with the exception of a sojourn in London in the late fifties and early sixties, before returning to Clondalkin, where he established a successful business for many years. In his early day, he played his club football with Sean McDermotts in Dublin, then with Taras in London, where he had many Leitrim exiles for company, including two brothers as team mates and finally with Round Towers in his Clondalkin days.

Packy played in six Connacht finals, losing all six - five to Galway in '57, '58, '59, '60 and '63 and one to Mayo in '67. Leitrim were unlucky to be at their best during Galway's golden era in Connacht in the era 1957-'60 particularly. At another time, Leitrim would have won a number of Connacht titles.


  • Born 29th April 1933 – Died 6th April 2021, aged 87..he was a Gaelic Football player from Garvagh, Mohill, Co. Leitrim and played Leitrim inter county for 23 years between 1949 and 1971, playing his first senior game at the age of 16.
  • Played in 4 Connacht Football finals with Leitrim, from 1957 to 1960. In 1958 they were narrowly beaten by a Galway team backboned by the players who would win three successful All Ireland senior titles between 1963 and 1966. In the ’58 final he had his jersey torn to shreds by the Galway backs and many spectators said his performance was one of the all-time great Gaelic football forward displays.
  • He played on his first Connacht Railway Cup team at the age of 20 in 1954. He won his first Railway Cup with Connacht in 1957.
  • Won a Connacht Junior Football title in 1962 and was on the team which lost to Meath in the All Ireland final.
  • Chosen on the Gaelic football team of the century 1984 of footballers who never won an All-Ireland senior medal.
  • The sole Leitrim Player chosen on the Connacht GAA team of the Millennium.


                 Another Famous All Ireland Hall Of Fame SportsLife Inductee honoured Online at

Last modified on Friday, 21 October 2022 19:34