Longford RFC Hall of Fame Awards 2018 Report   17/12/2018

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO

Setting the Scene

Longford hosted its fifth Hall of Fame Awards on Saturday past in the stunning venue that is the Round Room in the Mansion House, Dublin.  The Awards were created to honour the great players and volunteers in the club whose hard work have made Longford RFC one of the best junior clubs in the country.  It was amazing to see a crowd of over 300 pack the Round Room.  The attendees were treated to a great meal and also a complimentary glass of Fire Lager brewed specially for the Mansion House/Fire Restaurant by none other than Longford’s St. Mel’s Brewery. The Awards were extra special this year as our Guest of Honour was none other than Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt, on the back of Irelands record breaking year where Ireland won the Grand Slam, a series victory in Australia and also beat the All Blacks for the first time in Ireland.

The MC for the day was Michael Connellan with a great opening address from Club President, Paul Trueick.  One of the highlights of the day was a panel discussion between Joe Schmidt, our Director of Rugby Niall Moran and Head Coach Glenn Baskett.  It was a very enjoyable conversation which ranged from things like his time playing and coaching in Mullingar, which he thoroughly enjoyed, his famous cup of coffee with Joey Carberry and how he ended up at Leinster rugby.

The Packed Mansion House

Joe Schmidt

Former IRFU President and Longford Club Member Pat Fitzgerald penned a great tribute from the club to Joe Schmidt:

I am delighted that my Club, Longford RFC has this opportunity to pay tribute to our beloved National Rugby Coach – Joe Schmidt.  It is a measure of the man that today the most famous rugby coach in the world has made time to share this occasion with the players, members and friends of a humble Junior Club.  “Say it ain’t Joe” echoed the Irish Rugby landscape when news broke of his intended departure and tributes mounted in praise of a man who changed forever the Irish Rugby landscape.  Sport has the ability to lift people out of their day to day concerns in life and Joe has done that over and over by providing us with historic moments of great Irish Team achievements.  But as much as we don’t want our coach to go, he gives us a clear understanding of his values when he puts rugby and sport in general in context and shares with us his deep rooted inclination to prioritise family and this  quality was there throughout his stay with us.  It was not just in a rugby context that Joe touched our hearts.  We thank him also for the manner in which he and his family involved themselves in our community and all aspects of Irish life.  Joes humanitarian qualities were witnessed a plenty as he displayed unselfishness, compassion and public spiritness as he traversed the county doing good for a host of clubs and charitable organisations.  You would be amazed at the amount of good work he has selflessly undertaken to raise vital funds for so many good causes throughout the country.  His intended departure after Rugby World Cup 2019 was the news everyone feared but did no want to hear.  Yet we are united as one in extending him our every thanks and best wishes.  “Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened” – is a wise saying in praise of an all-encompassing man who has left us with a host of great accomplishments and fantastic memories to cherish.  We thank you Joe and wish you well.

Joe Schmidt recieves an award from Pat Fitzgerald and Paul Trueick

The Hall of Fame Inductees

The two inductees to the Hall of Fame were Matt Hanley and Paddy Quinn.  Dan Magan and Patrick Groarke gave great reflections on the two inductees.

Matt Hanley started playing rugby in Longford’s Mini Section and then went to Boarding College, where his passion for rugby continued.  Matt returned to Longford after college and played at all levels for Longford and was on a very successful 1st XV in the 1980’s.  When Matt hung up his boots he served in many positions on the Executive committee and was Treasurer of the club for a number of years.  Matts real passion was as a coach and manager and he brought his team all the way from Mini rugby to winning the Under 18 ½ Leinster Youth League and Cup Double last season, a truly remarkable feat.  His other great past time we all know is following Leinster.  This he does with the same passion as he coached his team.  It is great to see his double winning team here today to see him get his reward.  Matt is a true Clubman and all in Longford Rugby Club are delighted to see him get this recognition.

Paddy Quinn was one of six who reformed the club in 1967 along with Warren and Derick Turner who are here today.  Longford Rugby Club is currently one of the best in Leinster with its facilities for members and players.  As well as serving on the Executive Committee for over 25 years Paddy was Captain of the Club for 1968-69 season and served as President from 1983-1986.  He has been Trustee of the Club along with Pat Fitzgerald, Robert Belton and Warren Turner for the last 25 years.  One of the best supporters in the club, Paddy attends most away games and misses very few at home in CPL Park.  You will find him in his usual seat in the EVM Six Nations Bar discussing the finer details of the game that has taken place.  The award is in recognition of Paddy’s outstanding service of over 50 years to the club and thanks from the 1000’s of players and club members who have enjoyed the facilities at Longford RFC.

Paddy Quinn receives his Hall of Fame Award

In Conclusion

The event concluded with a fantastic auction, where the highlight was a 5 litre keg of Lough Ree Distillery Whiskey going under Tom Cox’s hammer.  It encouraged feverish bidding, so much so, that a second keg went to auction straight after for another great price.

The event concluded with some very funny anecdotes from Gene Fitzpatrick.

Thanks to the Main Sponsor for the Event, Fire Restaurant and Lounge, The Conference and the Events Venue at the Mansion House & Sole Seafood and Grill, which are all run by Longford Man Padraic O’Kane, all our raffle and auction prize sponsors and our hard working organising committee of Derick Turner, Michael Connellan, Gavin Belton, Dan Magan, Pat Fitzgerald, Padraic O’Kane and Padraig Murphy.

Longford Rugby Club Auld Blacks Hall of Fame Lifetime Recipients:

2008 Pat Fitzgerald, Derick Turner and Tom Cox.

2010 Niall Nally and Mell Diffley.

2012 Winnie Harney, Columba Quinn and Terry McCormack.

2014 Warren Turner and Brendan Considine.

2018 Matt Hanley and Paddy Quinn.

Matt Hanley recieves his award

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