Paudie Palmer pictured on the centre of the back row with Pearse O’Neill and Jim Nolan. In front are John Cashman and Michael Scanlon with Finbarr McCarthy at Paudie’s last game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Goodbye Paudie

Farewell to a friend and colleague.

This is one column I did not expect to be writing, especially from a balcony on a balmy evening in Puerto Rico, saying goodbye to Paudie Palmer.

I knew heading off on holidays that he was in a battle given the severity of the injuries he suffered in a hit and run car incident just before the year ended.

Sunday morning brought the terrible news that he had lost the battle. A couple of missed calls from Barry O’Mahony and John Cashman - colleagues in 96FM/C103 and another from Jim Nolan - a dear friend of Paudie were the first hints that all was not well. Then the messages popped up offering sympathy and confirming the awful news that Paudie had passed away.

The chat with Barry was a hard one as both of us had long been very good friends with the Templenoe native who had a grá for all things Cork, especially Gaelic games.

I first met Paudie over 30 years ago and in the intervening years, our friendship grew and I don’t think we ever had a cross word with one another.

In that time, we travelled the country mostly covering Cork football games for the radio station.

Cork footballers unlike the hurlers, could be playing anywhere in the 32 counties, and I think we went to most, if not all of them.

Donegal, Armagh, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway, Tyrone - I could go on forever.

Paudie had a way with words that was special and in the process made his commentaries unique, he put as much preparation into a junior championship game as he would an All-Ireland Final.

With the introduction of relegation to the county championship a few years ago, he coined the phrase for those games ‘the slán leat cup’ and it stuck!

On another occasion, the referee in a certain game sent off 2 players, one from each side, his reaction was “well those 2 laticho’s deserved that”.

Another gem; Paul O’Neill who sadly passed away during the summer was a prominent linesman for several referees. Paudie christened him: ‘The All-Ireland Champion at running backwards’. I even think Paul enjoyed that one.

Apart from his radio work, he was an excellent teacher in St Brogan’s Bandon and did huge work for his club Valley Rovers, initially as a coach, but in more recent years a Trojan worker for the club lotto and golf classic.

There are countless charities in all parts of the county that he lent his support to, that was another measure of the man.

A short few years ago, he fought and won a battle with cancer, that kept him off the airwaves for a period and just as he was about to return, Covid arrived, so as a precaution the comeback was delayed.

In that period he started his weekly podcast ‘The Rebel Wide Ball’. He proved a master at that art as well, delving into all sports, regularly ringing Mary (Newman) for the camogie update while the Ladies Football got equal prominence.

Eventually as normality returned, so did Paudie and it was as if he was never away.

In all his years commentating, he was fair and balanced rarely criticising players or officials all the time acknowledging they were doing their best.

We shared many special days and the memories will last forever.

A special one was the 2010 All-Ireland Football Final win over Down as Cork won by a single point.

Full time whistle sounds, Paudie stands up microphone in one hand and a fist pump with the other, the happiest Kerryman in Croke Park that day roaring on the Rebels.

What made that day extra special was his great friend of over 40 years, Jim Nolan was a selector with that team.

The tributes that were paid to him when his passing was announced on Sunday were testimony to his popularity, I honestly don’t think anyone had a bad word to say about him.

RTE Sport and News, TG4, Red FM along with our own stations 96FM/C103 and a host of print media joined in the tributes.

Social media went into overdrive, he would have enjoyed that.

In a short few weeks, the National Football League will commence with Cork v Meath, John Cleary and Colm O’Rourke, the Rebels v the Royals, but one face and voice will be missing.

The press area in Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be a strange place that afternoon especially for the 96FM/C103 crew, it will be tough but for Paudie, we will do our very best, he would not expect anything less.

My thanks to all who sent messages in recent days, it is really appreciated.

Paudie’s loss will be felt by many but his family will miss him most. To Collette, Claire, Emily his grandson Lucas Padraig, and the extended Palmer family go our deepest and heartfelt sympathy at this most difficult time.

The world is poorer with his passing, but we are blessed that he was part of our lives for so long.

Rest in peace my friend, I was proud and privileged to have known and worked with you.