Date Added: 27th December 2017
Down GAA are saddened to learn of the death of Dr Maurice Hayes, a former Runaí of our County and a man who was a friend and adviser to us all in many ways over many years.
Maurice always had a quiet pearl of wisdom to offer whenever you met him, his involvement was always genuine and always to try and be of benefit to the GAA in Down. The fortunes of our County were foremost in his thoughts, he had an understanding of the working of County Administration and he was always available for County Officers to discuss in confidence concerns that they might have or to offer possible solutions to a problem that might arise. He never lost either his love and admiration for the players who donned the Red and Black of Down at all levels, Maurice going back to the late fifties was in reality the man who identified player welfare as a key ingredient in the success of any County. Widely regarded as the architect of the Down history making successes of 1960 and 61, Maurice had begun his career as a County Administrator in 1949 as Assistant Secretary to the late great Peadar Barry and it was not long before his influence was starting to show, the Convention of 1950 set up a football selection committee of no less than five and no more than seven to select the County Teams, a task that had up to then been the duty of the full County Committee. There was to be no jockeying to get your own man on the Team in Maurice's world. That same year Maurice filled the role too of secretary of the new All County Football League and would have been very proud when Downpatrick defeated Newry in a play off to win the League.
In 1956 when Peadar Barry retired as Runaí Maurice was unanimously elected County Secretary, a superb organiser Maurice did not spare himself in furthering the interests of the GAA in the County bringing people with him by his great enthusiasm, imagination and a desire to make things happen. Maurice had the vision and most importantly he had the belief to make it happen, together with Barney Carr he worked diligently to create the idea the a Down Team could in five years time win an All Ireland.In 1958 Maurice floated the idea of a Team Manager being appointed, yet it was to be another year before the concept would be adopted by the Clubs of Down. In 1959 Down were to win their first Ulster Senior Title and Maurice as County Secretary was a selector along with Brian Denvir, Danny Flynn was Team Trainer , Martin Walsh was medical adviser and Barney Carr was now in the role of Team Manager. The dream driven by Maurice from the mid fifties was now in sight of fruition. Player welfare was the key point for Maurice and there was great solidarity among the men of the 60s which still exists today, for Maurice it was simple " you stick by us and we will stick by you ", a man really who was ahead of his time in recognising that the County Player and County Team was key to the success of a County.
1960 saw the vision of Maurice Hayes realised as the men of Down took the Sam Maguire across the border for the first time, it had taken time for Maurice to bring the plan to its conclusion, it was now ten years since the selection committee had been established and an All County Football League introduced, he had the qualities to maintain the focus on the goal of making Down the best in the land and that was shown again in 1961. When one was in the presence of Maurice and the players from that era you could never help but witness the mutual respect that each held the other in, to Maurice they were his men and to the players Maurice was very much their man, there was a bond there that was perhaps unique in GAA terms. 1964 saw Maurice stand down as Joint Secretary of the County Committee, due to pressures of his work as Town Clerk of Downpatrick and so a most influential voice was lost to administration in Down, his ability as a brilliant administrator had been recognised at Provincial and National Level within the GAA and he had given so much to the County of Down that is still so relevant to us today, we take our All County Leagues for granted yet today they are a testimony to the vision of Maurice Hayes.
Over the years then Maurice took on various tasks in a quiet but most efficient manner he led the commission into Hurling, when Club Down was formed to assist the County in the development of Pairc Esler Maurice again put his energies into ensuring that we had a ground worthy of our status as a County. In recent years too when a football review was being undertaken which ultimately led to the establishment of today's Mourne Academy Maurice was only too willing to help, he attended meetings and made a positive contribution to the review.
Maurice's enthusiasm belied his years as when Maurice spoke we all listened, we are lucky in Down that Maurice Hayes was one of our own, that he was our friend and our wise counselor, a man who gave great service to his County and his Country, known throughout Ireland and the World for his diplomacy and gentle manner, we in Down owe Maurice a great debt for he helped make us the proud GAA county that we are. He had the vision, he lived the dream and he left us the memories, the history and the belief in our County, he truly was a proud son of Mourne.
To his wife Joan, his children Clodagh, Margaret, Dara, Garrett and Ronan we extend our deepest sympathy on the loss of a wonderful husband and father , a man that we in Down GAA were privileged to have among us.
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam