John McEntee: John Morrison was a great GAA volunteer and Armagh Gael

THE name Valentine is derived from the Latin name Valens, which means worthy, strong, powerful.

As I write I am saddened to hear of the passing of John Morrison, a great Armagh Gael who epitomised those virtues.

I first met John as a young boy when he was manager of Armagh seniors. His warmth towards kids was clear to be seen as he casually strolled by me and a few mates after a match, but not without a smile and a wink and a tap on the head.

Soon after, he became my A-level geography teacher and he held a strong view that in order to truly understand geography you needed to go on field trips. Come to think of it, that’s how he coached football – always on the field as a lived-in experience.

This novel idea certainly wasn’t without its challenges as John decided to take the whole class on a trip to measure gravel along a 10km shingle spit in Wales.

“Bring a packed lunch including cold sausage sandwiches”, he told us. I remember John had a weakness in his right knee. It was an old football injury, he used to tell us.

Well, this gammy knee gave in about 2km from the pick-up point, but John was not for spoiling the geography trip.

We all took turns helping him back to the bus while the remaining students continued their measurements along the spit. And he made it with a smile on his face.

John was a principled man, a family man, a people’s man, a true football giant known for his expertise the length and breadth of Ireland.

The GAA has lost a great volunteer. We will carry the memory of the man with us for years to come.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.