Ulster and Irish hockey mourns the loss of John McDonough

The Ulster and Irish hockey family is mourning the loss of John McDonough who has sadly passed away after a long illness, writes John Flack.

The Belfast Harlequins stalwart enjoyed a fine playing career with Queen’s University and later Belfast YMCA and Holywood ’87 and was a popular figure around the club’s Deramore headquarters in recent years.

John, left, with wife Margaret and daughter Jenny on occasion of her first senior cap

Having coached Quins for a spell in the mid-nineties (under their previous guise of Collegians), John spent his most recent years passionately supporting the club and followed the women’s first eleven with particular interest.

John’s daughter Jenny McAuley is still going strong in her late 30s and has been a regular member of the EYHL squad in between giving birth to her two children, Rebecca and Matthew.

John and his devoted wife Margaret rarely missed a match and looked after their beloved grandchildren while their mum was in action on the pitch.

Before his health deteriorated, John and Margaret with Rebecca and Matthew in tow,  were able to watch Quins playing Railway Union at Deramore back in September.

The Queen’s side from the 1972 Irish Senior Cup win; John is second from the left, back row

Jenny won 117 Ireland senior caps in her international days after representing her country at every under age level. She made her senior debut in Belfast in 2001 as Ireland secured a rare positive result in the modern era against their oldest rivals, England, drawing the game 1-1 at Queen’s University.

John and Margaret went on to travel the world following the fortunes of Jenny and Ireland and were fantastic company for all who were privileged to know them and meet them on their travels.

In his playing days, John was a member of the Queen’s team who famously lifted the Irish Senior Cup in 1972 when the students were a real force in the game with a host of Ireland players in their ranks including Terry Gregg, John Clarke, the late Norman Crawford and Philip Marshall.

Yet, John, who didn’t play much hockey at school, had started his career with the club on their third eleven when he began a dentistry course in 1967 before rising through the ranks.

John and Margaret with grandkids Matthew and Rebecca

Like the bulk of the successful Queen’s team, John went on to join Belfast YM who then morphed into Holywood ’87 after going out of existence.

John also played top flight hockey in South Africa for four years when he went to work in Cape Town after graduating.

He was also a well-known administrator, having served on the Board of Hockey Ireland until 2020.

Belfast Harlequins paid John the following tribute: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of John McDonough.

“Although a supporter of all sports and social gatherings at Harlequins, his presence will be most missed at the side of the hockey pitch.

“He wasn’t just a hockey dad to Jenny, he really knew his hockey stuff!

“The Ladies Hockey section will remember him as a coach, supporter, sponsor and friend. He was a true gentleman with time to chat and a smile for everyone.

“The clubhouse at Deramore will be a little less bright when we can gather there again.

“We send our deepest condolences to Margaret, Jenny, son Andrew, grandchildren Rebecca, Matthew and Julie during these sad days.”

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