BY JOHN SEXTON
IT was a nostalgic occasion for Barryroe GAA Club at its recent AGM when long-serving secretary Paddy Murphy announced his retirement from the position, which he had held with such distinction for over 50 years.
In an emotional address to the meeting, Padraig Ó Muirchu – as he was so popularly known in GAA circles – recalled the ‘highs and the lows’ of all those years.
When Murphy took over, the club was struggling with grade B teams in both hurling and football, and progress was slow for the first 10 to 12 years. However, the evolution of the underage structure in the mid-1970s got things moving with victory in the minor hurling championship in 1977 over a fancied Bandon side.
This team progressed quickly to junior ranks, winning divisional titles in 1981, ’82, ’86, ’87 and ’94.
In the latter final against Argideen, Arthur Tobin was man-of-the-match, and 13 years later he was coach and selector to many of the same crop that won both divisional and county honours, defeating that classical team from Charleville on that never-to-be-forgotten day in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
On the football front, the first B championship was won in 1977. The goalkeeper on that occasion was Denzie Whelton, who has since played a management role in future wins in 1998, the county final victory in 2002 and the hurling victory of 2007.
Aside from victories on the playing fields, Paddy went on to recall how proud he was with the development of the club grounds during his tenure as secretary.
During his first ten years, they were going from farmer to farmer for a field each year, until they bought the present grounds in 1973, which now accommodates two fine playing fields. All the funding required has mostly come from Barryroe club members and supporters via bazaars, raffles, church gate collections, private donations, a major fund-raising draw and from the weekly club lotto.
While the parish has many clubs and societies, Murphy said the Barryroe name is defined primarly by three institutions – the national school, the Co-op, and the GAA/camogie club.
‘I worked in the Co-op for 49 years, and the GAA club for 51 years and my children went to Barryroe school. My identity with Barryroe is thus probably more heart-felt than others,’ Murphy said.
‘You have to remember there is no village called Barryroe, and there is no postal address with Barryroe on it, yet we all identify it, largely due to these three bodies.
‘The future of Barryroe GAA Club is the responsibility of each and everyone here and the future generations. The club will be 125 years in existence in 2017.
‘In that time a lot of fantastic people have dedicated their time and energy to the club and identified with the blue jersey with the utmost sense and pride, whilst gracing the fields of play.’
Summing up Murphy said that he felt extremely honoured and privileged to have fulfilled his role as club secretary over the last 50 years and have enjoyed every single minute of it.
‘From the bottom of my heart, I wish the club every success in the near and distant future – Barryroe abú,’ he signed off with.
Murphy, fittingly, then received a standing ovation from all delegates present.
It’s the end of an era, indeed.