Wex­ford mourns the pass­ing of a won­der­ful ser­vant

Enniscorthy Guardian - - SPORT - BREN­DAN FUR­LONG’S

WEX­FORD G.A.A. is this week mourn­ing the pass­ing of a for­mer Chair­man, Shea­mus Howlin. An out­stand­ing GAA ad­min­is­tra­tor, Shea­mus served at county, pro­vin­cial and na­tional level. He held the po­si­tions of Wex­ford County Chair­man and Le­in­ster Coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive be­fore be­ing ap­pointed Chair­man of the Le­in­ster Coun­cil, serv­ing from 2008 to 2011.

The pop­u­lar St. Martin’s club­man has given decades of ser­vice to the G.A.A. both as a player and ad­min­is­tra­tor, and ran for the pres­i­dency in 2014 when de­feated by Aogán O Fearghail.

He had pre­vi­ously headed the over­seas de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee dur­ing Nickey Bren­nan’s term as Pres­i­dent, from 2006 to 2009. He was the cur­rent Chair­man of the In­sur­ance and Risk Man­age­ment com­mit­tee, hav­ing be­ing ap­pointed by the cur­rent Pres­i­dent, John Ho­ran.

He was a na­tive of Pierces­town and a life­long mem­ber of the St. Martin’s G.A.A. club of which he was so proud. A St. Martin’s and Wex­ford leg­end in so many ways, he will be par­tic­u­larly missed by all those who knew him.

Shea­mus al­ways found a way of min­gling with groups, no mat­ter what club they be­longed to, and it was how I be­came a great friend over many years.

We trav­elled to games to­gether, and played on op­pos­ing teams, but no mat­ter what the out­come he was al­ways a loyal and trust­wor­thy friend through those years.

As our re­spec­tive ca­reers took dif­fer­ent paths, with Shea­mus pro­gress­ing his G.A.A. in­volve­ment through club, county, pro­vin­cial and na­tional level, he still al­ways found those few spare min­utes, de­spite also hold­ing down his own busi­ness, to have that con­ver­sa­tion, how­ever brief, on the day’s hap­pen­ings, not just in the G.A.A. but also in the wider world of sport and busi­ness.

Shea­mus will be missed not just by the G.A.A. and the wider com­mu­nity, but even more so by his fam­ily, to whom he was ded­i­cated.

He had a fan­tas­tic way about him of deal­ing with peo­ple, and those of us in the press can feel priv­i­leged to have worked with him for the bet­ter­ment of the G.A.A. in the county.

Al­ways trans­par­ent in his deal­ings with the press, we re­garded him more as a friend than an of­fi­cer of the G.A.A., and his con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the work­ings of the lo­cal me­dia were al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated.

Wex­ford and the G.A.A. in gen­eral has lost one of its more tire­less work­ers and staunch de­fend­ers. De­spite the se­ri­ous­ness of his ill­ness, Shea­mus still found time to at­tend games in his beloved In­no­vate Wex­ford Park while also tak­ing in his lo­cal club ground. He was so proud of the con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment of that state of the art cen­tre for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

When news of Shea­mus’ death be­gan to spread through the county on Satur­day evening, it came as a great shock. His death ar­rived just hours af­ter what had been another mar­vel­lous day on the play­ing fields for St. Martin’s in win­ning the Un­der-20 county foot­ball cham­pi­onship and the county Mi­nor camo­gie ti­tle, feats that he would have been so proud of.

Shea­mus is sur­vived by his wife, Vera, sons Gavin, Donal and Derek, and sis­ter, Eileen. Go ndéana Dia tró­caire ar a anam.

While the As­so­ci­a­tion was tinged with sad­ness over the week­end, it was given a fit­ting uplift on Sun­day morn­ing with the hold­ing of the Martin Storey Un­der-14 fes­ti­val of hurl­ing fi­nals in Ou­lart where three games were played.

One would have to ac­knowl­edge the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of Wil­lie Cleary in his or­gan­i­sa­tion of, not alone the three fi­nals, but also the group stages of the com­pe­ti­tion over the pre­vi­ous eight weeks. Nine Un­der-14 hurl­ing matches were played each week­end, with a to­tal of 72 over­all.

The big oc­ca­sion also had an All Blacks con­nec­tion since the lone piper lead­ing the pa­rade be­fore each game was a New Zealan­der, Hamish Stuart, now a teacher in Ou­lart.

The young boys felt so proud march­ing be­fore their sup­port­ers and rep­re­sent­ing their clubs.

Although only in his coach­ing role for a rel­a­tively short pe­riod, this ini­tia­tive of Wil­lie Cleary will con­sid­er­ably lessen the strug­gle to pro­mote the game of hurl­ing at un­der-age level.

This is a fes­ti­val that can be de­vel­oped. Well done to Wil­lie on his work in the pro­mo­tion of our an­cient game.

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