Death of Westmeath great Mickey Fagan
28 December 2013
The late Mickey Fagan
Mickey Fagan, who is regarded as one of Westmeath's greatest ever dual stars, was laid to rest in Mullingar yesterday.
A native of Castletown-Finea in the north of the county, Mickey finally lost his long battle with MS on December 23. He is survived by his wife Marie, son Martin and daughters Anne, Mary, Yvonne and Una. Martin became the first Irish athlete since John Treacy in 1992 to compete in the Olympic Games marathon in Beijing five years ago.
Mickey was one of the biggest names in Westmeath GAA during the 1960s and 1970s. He played his club football and hurling with Castletown-Finea and Castlepollard respectively, and also represented his county with distinction in both codes.
His footballing talents first came to notice when he helped St. Pat's College, Cavan (where he was a boarder) to back-to-back MacRory Cup wins in 1962 and '63. In the same years, he played minor football for Westmeath and was corner forward on the team which lost the 1963 All-Ireland final to Kerry.
Mickey played his early club football with The Downs before throwing in his lot with the reformed Castletown-Finea club in 1964. If Mickey had stayed with The Downs, he could have won five senior championships, but he never regretted his decision to go back and play for his home club. His finest hour in a Castletown-Finea jersey came in 1976 when he captained them to an intermediate championship final victory over their north county rivals St. Paul's.
With the Castlepollard hurlers, Fagan found success easier to come by and featured in their senior championship triumphs of 1961, '65, '66 and '74. At the same time, he lined out for the county hurlers and footballers, with his senior inter-county career spanning over 13 seasons.
"I represented Westmeath in both codes from 1966 to '78. People often ask me how I was able to combine playing for four teams, but I managed because I enjoyed it so much. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't have lasted for the length I did," he told the 2008 Westmeath GAA Yearbook, which is produced in association with hoganstand.com
Mickey regarded the 1967 Leinster championship win over Dublin and qualification for the 1969 National League semi-final as the highlights of his Westmeath football career.
He recalled: "We were very close to making a breakthrough at that time. After beating Dublin in the 1967 championship, we suffered a narrow defeat to Meath who went on to win the All-Ireland that year. We reached the National League semi-final two years later, only to lose to a very strong Kerry team."
Fagan's best performance for the Westmeath hurlers came in the 1975 All-Ireland 'B' home final against Antrim at Croke Park when he scored 0-8 from centre back. He also holds fond memories of Westmeath's defeat of Offaly in the 1967 Leinster championship, which was dubbed the 'Battle of Birr'. "We won the game and the row!" he remembered.
Mickey was forced to hang up his boots for good in 1980 due to the onset of his illness. He remained an avid follower of Westmeath GAA and only last month attended a 50th anniversary reunion for the 1963 minor footballers in Mullingar.
May he rest in peace.