The death was announced yesterday of former Mayo footballer JJ Cribbin. A native of Ballyhaunis, Fr Cribbin was Parish Priest of Milltown in Galway. He died yesterday at Mayo University Hospital following an illness.
JJ Cribbin was a talented forward who tasted national success with the Green and Red at both underage and senior level. Ordained as a priest in 1970, his senior career was a short, injury-interrupted one, lasting just four seasons during which he made 24 senior appearances.
1970 was also the year in which JJ Cribbin enjoyed his major highlight at senior level, as he bagged 2-1 in his team’s 4-7 to 0-10 National League final win over Down at Croke Park. Alongside him in the full-forward line that day was Willie McGee and the two had also soldiered together at U21 level three years prior to that on a Mayo team that claimed the county’s first ever All-Ireland title at that level.
Both Cribbin and McGee were on the scoresheet in that year’s drawn U21 All-Ireland decider against Kerry at Croke Park. Four weeks later, though, Cribbin – along with fellow seminarians on the team PJ Golden and Mick Lally – wasn’t allowed by the clerical authorities in Maynooth to line out in the replay at Ballinasloe. That could have been a crushing blow but luckily Willie McGee brought his shooting boots to Duggan Park for the replay, his four goals gaining him a place in Mayo folklore as his team powered to a 4-9 to 1-7 win.
Following his ordination JJ Cribbin played at senior level for the county for two more years. Willie McGee and himself were back amongst the goals in the 1972 Connacht final, with JJ grabbing another brace while Willie helped himself to a third. It wasn’t enough as Roscommon won that MacHale Park shootout by 5-8 to 3-10. That was JJ Cribbin’s final appearance at senior level for his county.
Also of interest will be an article by Daniel Carey in the Mayo News from 2010 (here) in which Fr Cribbin reminisces about the NFL title success in 1970 and how his clerical vocation didn’t always sit easily with his desire to play football for his county.
Fr Cribbin’s funeral Mass takes place at St Patrick’s Church, Ballyhaunis at noon tomorrow, with burial afterwards in the local cemetery. In line with current government guidelines, the funeral ceremony is a private one for family members only but the funeral Mass may be viewed on Ballyhaunis Parish’s webcam. It’ll also be broadcast on Ballyhaunis Parish radio. Full funeral details are here.
May this distinguished servant of football in Mayo, as well as much more besides, rest in peace.