Laois mourns passing of rugby legend Culliton
THE village of Rosenallis was thronged with mourners on Monday afternoon as local rugby legend MG (Gerry) Culliton was laid to rest in St Brigid’s cemetery.
Gerry, who passed away peacefully at his Rearymore home last Saturday, September 8, won an impressive nineteen caps with the Irish international rugby side between 1959 and 1964, collecting his first cap on Valentine’s Day, 1959 against England in the Five Nations competition.
Held in high esteem the length and breadth of the country, Gerry, who is well known in the farming community, was born on June 15, 1936 and his first introduction to rugby was at Cistercian College, Roscrea.
Renowned rugby commentator Fred Cogley said, “Gerry was an incredibly talented player and his great versatility meant he could play in the front, middle or back row of the scrum.”
Gerry scored the only try of his international career on February 13, 1960 against England and of his 19 international appearances, eighteen were in the Five Nations and one was a friendly against South Africa. It is a testament to his immense stature and ability that he wasn’t replaced in any of those games.
He played his club rugby with Tullamore, Dublin side Wanderers, Leinster and finally Portlaoise, whom he also managed.
In 2007 he was inducted into the Leinster Express / Laois People of the Year awards Hall of Fame, while he also features in the Portlaoise rugby club hall of fame alongside Brian and Colm Rigney.
Gerry lined out with the Barbarians in 1961 when they defeated a star studded South African side 6 nil. AC Parker in his book, ‘The Springboks: 1891-1970’, spoke glowingly of Gerry’s performance. “The three Baabaas loose forwards, the two Morgans and Gerry Culliton, had a major share in this upset victory.”
Having won Irish caps as a second row, wing-forward and number 8, he was almost capped at prop as well, playing there in a final trial of 1967, but his chances of playing in all three rows were scuppered because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Wales, which stopped New Zealand travelling.
Gerry also played minor hurling for Laois before concentrating on rugby but he returned to hurling later on and won a junior championship with Clonaslee in 1978. He was also part of Clonaslee’s 1975 senior hurling championship winning panel.
Deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Monica, their sons and daughters Orlagh, Brian, Ronnie, Garrett, Neal and Zita; his sisters Phil, Pat and Siobhan, daughters-in-law Susan, Sharon, Edel and Orlagh’s fiance Ian, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, relatives and friends.
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