Michael Kiely

Sideline view: Seamus Grant at Croke Park prior to the drawn All-Ireland Hurling quarter-final with Cork in July 2007. | Photo: Michael Kiely

The death of Seamus Grant in the early hours of Tuesday morning was greeted with widespread sadness by this newspaper, throughout Waterford and across the entire GAA world. His passing has created a void that will never, ever be filled.

For 37 years, Seamus served as Rúnaí of the Waterford GAA County Board, a term which would single him out as the longest serving such secretary in the modern history of the Association. In this respect, Seamus will always stand alone.

His life as an administrator began back in 1951, when he was appointed secretary of the Juvenile League, an office he held for 10 years before assuming the Eastern Division portfolio.

Come 1971, with Richard Nixon still in the White House, Dev in the Áras and Brian Faulkner the Prime Minister in Stormont, Seamus was appointed to the role that would define his sporting life.

Through the lean 1970s, Munster hurling final batterings in the 80s, the re-emergence of the Deise as a hurling force in the 1990s and glory nights for our junior and Under-21 footballers, Seamus witnessed them all.

And every Sunday night, without fail over five different decades, he sat down in his Manor Park home (predominantly in front of a typewriter), cast a studious eye over his notes and got writing.

Across five different decades, Seamus contributed thousands of match reports, previews and reviews to The Munster Express; the sheer volume of his output quite astonishing at times.

His was a most forensic approach to match reporting, that same attention to detail something that county board delegates would also note come convention time.

If a ‘T’ needed crossing or an ‘I’ needed dotting, there was no more able man than Seamus to complete the task, be it grand or minimal.

A meticulous man who left nothing to chance, he had all the attributes that any secretary worth his salt required to execute the duties of his office.

Just before Christmas, Seamus dropped into ‘The Munster’ to discuss what GAA coverage he’d be able to muster during the quietest period of the hurling and football year.

As usual, he had a few clear ideas in mind about what he could contribute to the column-inching cause.

Few shoulders were pressed to the Gaelic Games wheel more than Seamus’s on a weekly basis and I will not be alone in missing the many chats had with him at 37, The Quay.

A perch in the press box perch regularly proves a source of great anecdote and humour generation, making it one of my favourite journalistic domains.

Seamus was a frequent neighbour in such a setting over the past decade, always on hand to inform us card-carrying journos of any late changes to county or club selections.

The verbal tennis matches that regularly take place there, particularly when parish faces parish, brings out the tribal element in even the most impartial of scribbling souls, but never in a rancour-creating manner.

Colleagues Tony Mansfield, Phil Fanning and John A Murphy add much colour and candour to match days – be they local, provincial and national. It’s a presence all the more welcome during a dull game, sometimes diluting the notion that we do constitutes actual work.

And in the middle of it all was Seamus Grant, joining in the good natured fun of it all -without missing a scintilla of the action, of course. His warm welcome, good nature and word in the ear will be sadly missed on a damp day in Dungravan or a sun-kissed Semple Sunday.

To me, Seamus was a thoroughly decent, admirable, co-operative and scrupulous man, who loved his hurling and football (Bridge too, it must be noted), a glittering example of what it means to be a volunteer.

To his wife Betty and daughters Maria and Aine, all I can offer are my deep and sincerest sympathies for the loss of not just a great GAA man, but, quite simply, a great man.

Gan aon amhras ar fad, ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann. Go gcastar ar a chéile arís muid, a Shéamais.