The family, friends and former football colleagues of John McNamara bade farewell to Mr Commercials on Monday last after the Clonmel football legend passed away the previous Friday.
It was an incredibly sad day for all who had the pleasure of knowing John, the man who gave selflessly of his time for over 50 years to the club he loved.
A devoted husband, father and grandfather, John was well known throughout the county for his incredible work ethic and professional approach to everthing he was involved in. To his wife Maureen and family we express our sincere sympathy.
His name on the electoral register was John McNamara but he was so much a part of the Clonmel Commercials Gaelic Football Club that people just knew him as Mr Commercials.
It was a nickname well-earned and it is no exaggeration to say that Clonmel Commercials as we know them today would not exist without the lifetime of dedication that John McNamara gave to the famous club. From player, to groundsman, right through to President, John McNamara held every position in the club.
John’s association with the club began in 1952 when he stood in goal for the Commercials minor team. The club was just eighteen years in existence and few could have predicted the footprint that this individual would leave on the sporting history of the club and the town of Clonmel.
As a goalie, John represented the club from minor to senior level winning five county senior medals. While his exploits as a player will always be remembered by his teammates and opponents alike, it is perhaps off the field that John McNamara’s legacy will be best seen. As a coach he led many teams of all age groups to success, instilling a love of gaelic football to generations of youngsters in Clonmel. Many of these young players would go on to enjoy long careers at club, county and indeed provincial level. Involved in four Munster club finals as a player and coach, victory had eluded him. In November 2015 the club finally landed the coveted Munster crown and John was in Mallow to witness the club’s finest hour.
A few weeks later, when Clonmel Commercials were voted Munster Club of the Year, it was fitting that the man, who had almost single handedly kept the club going through the barren times, was asked to don his tuxedo and receive the award on behalf of the club. No big match day for Clonmel Commercials could start without John being asked to speak to the players in the dressing room. I was fortunate enough to be involved with Commercials teams for a couple of years and as an outsider it wasn’t their football that impressed me, it was the love and respect that every Commercials player had for John McNamara. I often stood back in the dressing room and watched the Commercials players hanging on his every word as if he was delivering The Sermon on The Mount (and believe me, the message John was delivering was a long way removed from the message in The Sermon on The Mount!)
Of course, it is not just in Clonmel that John’s legacy lives on. He fought the good fight on behalf of Tipperary Football for many years at County Board level. In meeting rooms, where many people didn’t want to hear about gaelic football, John made sure that his voice and the voice of Tipperary Football was heard. He pushed for many years for the establishment of a Football Board which would run the football affairs in Tipperary.
Eventually the county board compromised and the Minor Football Board was formed. John served as its first secretary.
We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Maureen and the McNamara family. Farewell Mr Commercials, you gave this world far more that it ever gave you!