Flynn, John Joe

Another link with the Westmeath team that contested the 1949 Leinster football final was severed in April when John Joe passed to his eternal reward. The farmer from Rossan lined out at midfield alongside Jimmy Greally on the team that lost the decider to Meath by 4-5 to 0-6. Another 55 years would pass before Westmeath finally got their hands on the Delaney Cup.

According to a report on the '49 final in the Midland Herald: "The big occasion seemed to overawe the Westmeath men on Sunday. They lacked the confidence and polish which had characterised their previous displays, and poor fielding, weak shooting and bad passing brought groans from their supporters."

The Lake County had eight points to spare over Carlow (3-7 to 1-5) in their championship opener and followed that up with a 2-5 to 0-7 victory over Laois. In the Leinster semi-final at Tullamore, Westmeath drew, 2-6 to 1-9, with Offaly before seven points from Peter Molloy helped them to a 0-8 to 1-2 victory in the replay at Cusack Park.

During the same era, John Joe was part of a strong Kinnegad team which won a three-in-a-row of senior championships in 1944, '45 and '46. He also played in the county finals of 1952 and '55, which Kinnegad lost to Rosemount and Athlone respectively. He remained a loyal supporter of the club after his retirement.

Former county board chairman and Coralstown/Kinnegad GAA stalwart Denis Coyne described him as "our very own gallant John Joe".

He said: "He stood tall among the football greats in this club and county. John Joe was a talented midfielder and played a pivotal role in most of the club's successes throughout the 1940s and '50s. One of his last games was in the 1955 county final.

"He had great leadership qualities on the field of play and always wore the club and county jersey with great pride.

"When John Joe gave up playing football, he retained a keen interest in the club and served on the officer board for a number of years, being chairman for a period of time. I remember taking John Joe onto the Westmeath team bus on that fateful day in 2004 as we were heading to Croke Park for the Leinster final. He was as determined and committed for the team as he had been when he took to the field in Croke Park on the county's previous Leinster final appearance in 1949.

"His words of encouragement were greatly appreciated by the team and officials on that historic day for Westmeath football. The name John Joe Flynn will be fondly remembered whenever club and county football is talked about in years to come, and he was, in the words of the song, our very own gallant John Joe."

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