You’ll recall I was a bit the worse for wear this night week. It was all the fault of Charlestown Sarsfields GAA club. Let me explain.
I got a very kind invitation to a fundraiser the club was hosting in Dublin, which took place last Friday afternoon at the Radisson Blu up here on Golden Lane, at the back of Dublin Castle. Styled as “An afternoon with Tyrone legend Mickey Harte and guests” the fundraiser was a well-attended and lively lunch (in my case a rather boozy one too), hosted in entertaining fashion by Barry Murphy of Après Match fame.
Mickey was there and did a nice speech, even managing to say a few complimentary things about the county team in the process, although the sting of his side’s latest loss to us wouldn’t have had fully subsided by then. After that, clubman John Casey hosted a lively panel discussion with Billy Joe Padden and Ciaran Whelan. Club hero and county star Tom Parsons was also at the event, mingling with the assorted guests. The food was great and there was drink taken, Your Honour.
Two things about the event impressed me. The first was the ingenuity of hosting a Mayo GAA club fundraiser in Dublin. This might seem like an obvious thing to do but I can’t recall another example offhand of a Mayo club taking such a route.
It makes eminent sense – club fundraising within the county inevitably involves pulling from the same pot on a continual basis, competing with everyone else on the same mission in the process. It can’t be an easy task. Dublin is where the people are, it’s where the money is and, crucially, it’s where the people with the money are. As John Casey remarked to me at the event, if Mohammad won’t go to the mountain then the mountain must come to Mohammad.
The second impressive thing was that this event didn’t just happen. A serious amount of careful, detailed organising went into it and the fruits of these labours were there for all to see on the day. The event’s main organisers – club chairman Liam Breheny, main club sponsor Alan Crean, Kevin Duignan (secretary), Valerie Murphy (treasurer), Donal Healy and Ronan Kenny – all deserve high praise for pulling this event together in the impressive manner that they did.
I did mention it was a fundraiser, didn’t I? Liam tells me they raised something in excess of €25,000 from the event, an amount all the sweeter I’d say, seeing as it didn’t involve tapping the usual suspects back home for the bulk of this lolly.
Other clubs take note: in the world of fundraising, there are different ways to skin the proverbial cat. Charlestown blazed an impressive trail with this initiative, others will surely profitably follow in their wake.