Wexford mourns the passing of a wonderful servant
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.