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RIP Mayo GAA All-Ireland winner Paddy Prendergast dies aged 95

Dr Mick Loftus is the last surviving member of the Mayo panel from 1951, although the former GAA president didn’t feature in the decider against Meath.

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Paddy Prendergast, fullback on the last Mayo senior football team to win an All-Ireland in 1951 proudly holding his All-Ireland medal at home in Ballinorig, Tralee

Paddy Prendergast, fullback on the last Mayo senior football team to win an All-Ireland in 1951 proudly holding his All-Ireland medal at home in Ballinorig, Tralee

Paddy Prendergast, fullback on the last Mayo senior football team to win an All-Ireland in 1951 proudly holding his All-Ireland medal at home in Ballinorig, Tralee

THE death has been announced of Paddy Prendergast, the final surviving member of the last Mayo team to achieve All-Ireland senior football glory 70 years ago.

The passing of this legendary figure, at the age of 95, was confirmed earlier this morning.

Prendergast was full-back on the Mayo team that lifted Sam Maguire, back-to-back, in 1950 and ’51 and had been a faithful follower of his county in all of their subsequent All-Ireland heartbreaks.

The Ballintubber native and former Garda had spent most of his adult life in Tralee, having been transferred there during the 1960s.

Prendergast had been the last starting survivor of a team that has been mythologised even more with the county’s steady accumulation of All-Ireland final defeats, 11 in total since 1989 – including six in the last decade.

Dr Mick Loftus is the last surviving member of the Mayo panel from 1951, although the former GAA president didn’t feature in the decider against Meath.

Prendergast had previously played at full-back on the team that lost the 1948 final against Cavan and filled the same role, victoriously, against Louth in ’50 and then Meath a year later. He earned the sobriquet Mayo’s “ballet” full-back.

Curiously, he had already played senior football for three years with Donegal – where he was stationed in Dungloe – before getting the call to play for his native county.

“I think we had a great team, I don’t include myself in that but we had great footballers,” Prendergast remarked in a 2017 interview with AIB’s GAA blog.

“Padraig Carney, Eamon Mongey, Tom Langan and these, you know. We probably should’ve won at least four during that period because we were deprived of the first one with the game cut short (in the ’48 final) and a gale behind us, with Peter Quinn’s point not allowed – and no retaking of the penalty after a blatant foul. These things happen, you know.”

The green-and-red’s repeated failures to cross the line since ’51 has fuelled the legend of the Mayo curse.

According to this much-disputed story, a priest put a curse on Mayo football after the lorry transporting the victorious ’51 players failed to pay proper respects to a funeral cortege in Foxford.

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Supposedly the priest decreed that Mayo would not win another All-Ireland until all members of the team had gone to their eternal rest.

However, Prendergast’s wife Irene told the Irish Mirror earlier this month, ahead of Mayo’s latest failed attempt (against Tyrone) to end their 70-year All-Ireland famine: “He doesn’t believe in that curse.”

She added: “Of course, without doubt it would give him greater satisfaction to see them do it and, I tell you what, we will celebrate if they win. Paddy has said they are a wonderful team and I’m sure they will make it.”

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