The Jim Lynch Hall of Fame Award is presented by the Leitrim Supporters in Dublin in honour of one of its founding members & former county player of the 50/60’s Jim Lynch.
This award means a lot to the supporters in Dublin & to the recipients who are recognised for a lifetime of service & contribution to the GAA in Leitrim. The award also means a lot to the Lynch family and every year since its inception a member of the Lynch family has presented the award. So I would like to especially welcome Jim/Martina who is with us tonight
This year’s hall of fame winner Matt Gaffey came from Galway as a secondary school teacher to Marian College Mohill in 1968 and in 1971 was Manager of the first Mohill Senior team to win a Senior Championshi since 1929. In 1971 Matt was what we call multi tasking’ as he also managed local neighbours Eslin to win the Leitrim Junior Championship the same year.
Matt’s involvement with the Mohill club has been a long and distinguished one. From the early 80’s Matt started managing under age teams and thus began an era of huge success for the club enjoying success at virtually every grade including U-14, 16, 18 and 21. The titles brought home are too numerous to mention but worthy of note are back to back U-21 championships in 85 & 86, minor championship & league doubles in 83 & 86 and U-16 titles in 95, 96 & 97
Matt again took up managing the senior team in the late 90’s winning the intermediate championship in 1999. He gained promotion with this team and consolidated the clubs position as a force in senior football again.
Matt resumed involvement with the underage teams and success continued when the U-14’s won the county championship in 2011. Over the years Matt worked with many great club men most notably the late BrendanÓgallagher, John Dugdale, Pascal McKeon, and Peter Logan.
Also important was Matt’s ability to bring people from all walks of life and different abilities to the Park. There is no doubt that football under Matt’s tenure ship was as inclusive and unprejudiced a place as it possibly could have been, and many a young man was kept out of mischief as Matt corralled them to the park and threw them a jersey. Numerous players who pulled on the Green and Gold of Leitrim had played under Matt at club or school level.
Gaelic football retained an elevated status on the Marian College curriculum and it gained a reputation for nurturing football talent in Leitrim. A rich history of sporting success became the hallmark of the school right up until its amalgamation into Marian College Community School in the mid noughties. Marian College was inscribed into many pieces of silverware over the 40 year period Matt was involved. The successes included a number of Corn Breffni titles in the 80’ & 90’s. It’s biggest day was when they won the Connacht Colleges C Final in 2004.
Matt has coached school teams and club teams for over 40 years. He was involved in over 50 FINALS, with 36 wins, 33 of them with Mohill.
One of Matt’s main goals is to pass on some of his knowledge to the younger generation of coaches in Leitrim. A GAA tutor for 12 years he qualified as a master tutor in 2008 and has become heavily involved in the GAA Coaching programmes. He is a member of the Connacht Council Coach Education Committee. He is also involved in developing policies and strategies at national and provincial level which will improve the game played, the standard it is played at and the safety and enjoyment of those playing them. Over his career his contribution to sport has been acknowledged by Matt receiving among other awards:-
1986 CIBA Giegy Leitrim GAA Clubman of the Year
1999 Rehab People of the Year Award
2006 Invitation to meet the President in Aras An Uachtaran for outstanding contribution to sport
2009 Special Award for Coaching in Connacht Colleges over 40 years
2010 Exceptional Services to Sport – Leitrim Sports Council
2011 AIB National Coaching and Development Award. AIB recognise one person in Ireland for their contribution to football coaching
Matt has made an enormous contribution to Mohill GAA Club, St Finbars Hurling Club, Mohill Town Soccer Club and Marian College Basketball teams. He was known as the penalty king with the Mohill Town Soccer team and he is a huge Man Utd fan.
Over the years Galway men through their footballers have caused many difficult days for Leitrim Supporters. We can be truly grateful that this very proud Galway man came among us and got fully involved in transferring his football expertise to Mohill and our proud county.
tonight we honour his contribution to the GAA in Leitrim but Matt’s greatest contribution over 5 decades has been to the well being of youth, and the fitness and health of young men in his club, community and county.
There is no more fitting person to be inducted into the Jim Lynch Hall of Fame than Mohill’s Matt Gaffey.
26-Jan-14 by Eamonn Duignan