Michael (Mick) Somers departed this life on May 2, 2012. His sudden passing brought together family, neighbours and friends from all over the country to remember a man that will be considered an icon in North Kilkenny. For he was a man of integrity, that immersed himself in all facets of community life. His commitment and loyalty to Coon and its people was known far and wide and was touched on by Fr. John Delaney in his sermon.
Mick’s mark is all over the area he loved. Each and every building and facility in Coon has had some input from him either through its construction or management. However it was Comerford Park he had special fondness of. It was through his vision and that of others that saw Coon being one of the first clubs in Kilkenny to own their own pitch. Always competitive, his biggest joy was when Coon people reached their potential and achieved greatness. Over the years this has occurred through various sporting and cultural avenues including GAA, athletics and Tug-o-war. No matter what it was, when the area and its people and achieved greatness, this was his moment to enjoy.
He was on the first minor hurling team to leave the village in 1945. The early years of the club were difficult. Eventually they reached the junior hurling finals of 1961 and 1962, loosing out to Mooncoin and Thomastown respectively. However in the autumn of 1967, Coon won their first Junior Hurling Championship defeating Knocktopher. On that day, Mick captained the team wearing number 4. That green and white jersey draped his coffin. This he regarded his greatest achievement. For this was the first time the bonfires lit-up the sky’s of the North Kilkenny hills to welcome back a first hurling title.
Soon after he took to management and was selector with Coon in 1973. That year, the Kilkenny county board re-introduced the intermediate championship. Coon defeated Graiguenamanagh in the final. Even though the 1970’s were lean times for hurling in Coon, the foundation stones of what was to come were laid. During this time the Coon Development Association was set up with the aim of developing a hurling field. He was instrumental in this. By 1977, Comerford Park opened, thus making Coon one of the first clubs in the county to develop and own their own playing grounds.
In 1982 Coon and Muckalee/Ballyfoyle Rangers came together to form a new hurling club, St. Martin’s. His allegiance to St. Martin’s was absolute. He served for six seasons as senior selector. Blood, area or creed did not inhibit his decision making. He did not care where a player hailed from once they donned that green and red they played for St. Martin’s. This was central to his thinking, for he knew that if good hurlers in the area were to achieve their full potential, they needed to play together.
He also coached underage teams and eventually managed St. Martin’s to win the 1996 Under-21 B hurling championship. St. Martin’s made him president of the club in 2005. As his cortège passed over Byrnes Bridge, Coon players of yesteryear and current St. Martin’s players formed a guard of honour and joined their captain and president on his final journey.
As well as the green and white jersey his coffin was also draped with the red and black of Black-bridge. This represented his other sporting interest, tug-of-war. He gained national prominence in the 1970’s when the Coon reached the All Ireland in 1971. During the 1980’s the Black-bridge club, asked him to train them. They won various Leinsiter titles, the ploughing Championship in 1986, hosted the All Ireland in 1988 and competed in the World Championships in Wexford the same year. They too joined the guard of honour.
Mick’s family life concentrated mainly on his farm. He had a knack of producing quality cattle. Over the years he built an excellent cattle herd. In 1988 he had a cow that gave birth to triplet limousin bull calves. This was and still is something that’s very rare. It was covered by a lot of media outlets at the time. He was well known for his building skills especially his fondness of working with stone.
He sadly leaves behind his wife Nelly sons Martin and Michael. His brothers Paddy (Perth, Western Australia), Murty (Cruttencolugh), Stephen (Coon) and Bernard (Dublin) and his two sisters Mai and Kai (Manchester, England). Ar deis de go raibh se.