Tuesday 15 October 2019

Former Dublin chairman John Bailey passes

DUBLIN VISIONARY: The late John Bailey
DUBLIN VISIONARY: The late John Bailey

The story goes that before his appointment as Dublin hurling manager in November of 2001, Kevin Fennelly travelled from Kilkenny for talks with relevant members of the county board.

John Bailey arrived for the meeting but made the mistake of greeting Fennelly as Liam.

"I'm not Liam," corrected Fennelly. "Liam's the fella you asked before me."

Bailey, who passed away yesterday at the age of 74, was easily Dublin GAA's most high-profile chairman of the past 20 years.

A prominent member of Cuala, he refereed the 1986 All-Ireland Senior hurling final between Cork and Galway but by 1992, had moved into the chair of the Dublin county board.

Within three years, he had overseen the re-development of Parnell Park, then dilapidated and in urgent need of upgrade.

A businessman with a string of varied and successful ventures, Bailey's financial acumen was seen as his greatest strength as an administrator.

Yet despite some notable controversies during his decade as chairman, there was broad acknowledgement of the volume of unpaid work Bailey did for Dublin GAA.

Most famously, he offered the vacant Dublin football manager's job to Mick O'Dwyer in late 2004.

"I met with John Bailey in the K Club and agreed to do the job," O'Dwyer claimed.

"Then a few Dublin ex-players and managers started kicking up a fuss and I rang John and told him it wasn't for me."

He was also central to the removal of Tommy Carr as manager in October 2001 when, having pledged his support in the immediate aftermath of their All-Ireland quarter-final replay defeat to Kerry, Bailey subsequently cast the decisive vote against Carr after the ballot was split.

Such squabbles weren't confined to the county footballers.

In 2005, the Dublin senior hurlers released a statement saying they would not fulfil any fixture under an interim management team headed by Bailey after Humphrey Kelleher was dismissed mid-summer following a Leinster SHC defeat to Laois.

Bailey stepped down as chairman later that year and though he ran for the position of vice-chair, he was heavily defeated by Danny O'Connor.

A year later, he was nominated to run again for the top office but Bailey withdrew before the election at annual convention and outgoing chair Gerry Harrington was returned unopposed.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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