Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Club Notes - 20th March

Tony Mansfield: A Great Abbeyside Man
Despite the fact that it is over a week now since Tony passed away, the news of his passing still does not seem to have sunk in with us all in the club. Talking to many people at his funeral and burial the one thing that most people seemed to say was that we all felt that Tony would be actively working in our club forever, such was the time he dedicated to our club throughout his life. Whilst Tony had a keen interest in the GAA at all levels it was the club that was everything to Tony, and not just his beloved Abbeyside / Ballinacourty. Tony was passionate about protecting clubs from what he saw was an ever increasing over emphasis on inter county activity which impacted negatively on clubs in many ways. At County Board meetings where Tony kept a variety of Chairmen on their toes, he would scrutinise every proposal, checking to see how it might impact on the clubs of the county and if he felt that it would damage the clubs in any way you can be sure that he would fight it tooth and nail!!! Writing in The Sunday Independent in 2003 Colm O’Rourke wrote an excellent article about the role of the club in the GAA. Describing the work of the club volunteers he said “Give any half decent clubman a choice between his club winning a Junior Championship and his County winning the All Ireland and it is no contest. The club win every time and rightly so - every savage should love his native shore.” This was very much true of Tony Mansfield as despite his great love for Waterford it was always Abbeyside / Ballinacourty first.
Tony first became involved as a player with our club over 70 years ago as his name was posted on a list of under 14s who were called in for training for the upcoming championship. I’m sure little did he realise then as sprightly 12 year old that for the 70 years or so his life would be consumed by the GAA. Tony’s first recorded success in our club history book, came in 1955 when he was wing back on the club minor hurling team that won the Western Championship defeating Cappoquin Rovers in the final 3:07 to 0:05. Unfortunately they were defeated by Na Risigh (Mt.Sion) in the County Final but this was the first of many victories for our club featuring Tony Mansfield. The following year Tony played on the Abbeyside Senior hurling team that recorded a famous victory over Tourin in Cappoquin. A victory over Fourmilewater in the next round set up a County Semi Final clash with Mt.Sion who ended Abbeyside’s interest in the Championship on a scoreline of 6:10 to 5:02. In 1957 Tony was again on the club minor team that defeated Cappoquin in the Western Final and advanced to the County Final where once again Na Risigh awaited the Villagers. Unfortunately Tony was sick for the County Final and unable to play and his absence was too big a loss to the team who were narrowly defeated. Following Waterford’s appearance in the All Ireland Senior final in 1957 Abbeyside produced a fantastic display of hurling to shock Erins Own in the County Semi Final and advance to the County Final with a young Tony Mansfield playing at corner back whilst still a minor. Despite giving their best Abbeyside were defeated by an exceptional Mt. Sion team which included the likes of Phil Grimes, Seamus Power, Larry Guinan and Frankie Walsh. In 1958 Abbeyside entered a football team of their own and Tony lined out in goal but 1958 is more significant for the fact that it was the year that Tony joined the club committee marking the start of a remarkable career in club administration. 1959 began with a meeting that certainly encompassed Tony’s desire to unite the parish clubs as he was part of a delegation that met the officers of the Ballinacourty Club officers where it was agreed that Abbeyside would not enter an adult football team that year, thus sowing the seeds for the future amalgamation of the clubs. It was to get even better for the club that year as on December 20th the club defeated Tramore in the Minor Football County final on the remarkable scoreline  of 0:01 to 0:00. Along with his fellow selectors Tony, who was team trainer, introduced 15 year old Austin Cashin at top of the right at half time and with only eight minutes remaining it was the young Cashin who scored that winning point!!  Thus the decade concluded with Tony leading the club to a County Title for the first time with many more to come and for good measure he was also Assistant Secretary to his great friend Seamus O’Brien. This was an administrative double act that would serve the club for many years to come.
The 1960’s began with Tony very much continuing to push for the amalgamation of the two clubs and at the Ballinacourty AGM in 1960 he was elected on to their club committee following a request from the Abbeyside club. 1960 was also the year when the first official divisional under 16 hurling championship took place and following victories over Ardmore, Fourmilewater and Dungarvan, Abbeyside defeated Cappoquin in the Western Final in Lismore on a score line of 4:07 to 3:01. Despite Tony’s best efforts as team trainer they were beaten in the County Final by Mt.Sion. In 1961 the Western Title was retained but unfortunately De La Salle proved too hot to handle in the County Final. 1962 was another historic year for the club as Ballinacourty won their first title, in the form of the Western Junior Football League with Tony lining out at wing back. Also in 1962 the Club’s good run in under 16 continued where with Tony as coach they won the Divisional Double but unfortunately the bad luck in County Finals continued. 1963 saw Ballinacourty enter a second football team for the first time and throughout his time in the club entering Junior teams to ensure that every player got games, was something that Tony believed strongly in. Also in ’63 Tony trained the Minor Footballers who were defeated by Tramore in the County Final. 1964 saw Abbeyside back in the County Senior Hurling Final where Tony lined out at wing forward, and despite being rank outsiders against Mt.Sion the team put up a heroic effort before being beaten by two goals. The year did finish on a good note as the Senior Hurlers claimed the first official title since entering the Senior Ranks in 1951, as they won the 1963 Sargent Cup. The following year it was the turn of Ballinacourty to shine on the playing fields as they won the County Intermediate Football title defeating Rathgormack in the County Final where Tony lined out at corner forward whilst he was also team trainer as well as being the Ballinacourty Secretary!! The success kept on coming in 1966 when the club won the first ever U21 Hurling Championship defeating a hotly fancied De La Salle side in the County Final and throughout his coaching career the under 21 grade was on that Tony placed a great emphasis on. 1967 saw Tony’s efforts to unite the clubs of our parish come to fruition as they finally amalgamated with Tony serving as the club’s very first Secretary. At the AGM in 1969 Tony was elected as Club Chairman and this decision proved to be a shrewd one as the club went on to have a great year winning club of the year for the very first time. On the field of play Tony was still performing and he was on the Senior Hurling team that shocked County Champions Ballygunner in the County Semi Final, but that old bogey team Mt Sion lay in wait in the County Final and inflicted yet another defeat on the club.
If the sixties had ended well, the seventies got off to an even better start as with Tony still serving as Club Chairman the Club won the Club of the Year accolade for the second time. Tony was trainer to the minor side who recorded a historic County Double and also to the under 21 footballers who won a divisional double with the footballers going on to beat John Mitchells in the County final but unfortunately the hurlers were beaten by a strong Ferrybank side in the County Final. As if that wasn’t enough Tony also trained the under 14 hurlers who won the first ever divisional championship defeating Tallow in the Final. This was part of a great rivalry that was building up between Abbeyside and Tallow as the sides would clash in numerous Western Championship finals. No doubt Tony and Ned Power were putting into action the skills they had acquired at the Coaching Courses in Gormanstown College in 1965. 1971 saw more new ground broken in the club as firstly extensive improvement works were carried out in the club grounds under Tony’s watchful eye as Chairman. Success on the playing fields continued with the under footballers retaining the County Title and the under 16 footballers winning the first ever County Title for the club in this grade. 1972 saw the emergence of a great under 14 team in the club and under Tony’s guidance they won a Western Double going on to defeat Roanmore in the County Final. The following year finally saw the Mt. Sion bogey laid to rest as the under 16 hurlers defeated the Monastery side in the County Final to claim another historic first for the club. In 1974 Tony stepped down a Club Chairman but continued his success on the coaching front as the under 16s won a divisional double going on to defeat Roanmore in the County Final. In 1976 that promising bunch of under 14s from 1972 won a historic Minor County Double defeating Roanmore in the hurling County Final and Cuchullainn in the football final. 1977 saw the club win the under 14 football County Title and this victory saw Tony complete the clean sweep of underage County Titles as coach. Interestingly when Jim Morrissey went up to receive the cup, who was waiting to present it him only Tony, who at this time was Chairman of County Board na nÓg.
Having led the club to so much underage success it was only natural that Tony would be involved when the club finally won the County Senior Football title, and that dream was finally fulfilled when they defeated Clashmore in the County Final on a score of 0:13 to 2:04. They say it takes a good team to win a title and a great one to retain it so it was only fitting that in 1979 that the title was retained with victory over Ferrybank in the County Final with the club also being named Club of the Year. Whilst the County Championship was surrendered in 1980 the side showed great commitment and determination to reclaim it in 1981 with Tony once again as team manager. Tony continued to train teams in the club for many more years and whilst they may not have had the success of the previous two decades they were always meticulously prepared for the battle. In 1990 Tony was manager to the under 16 hurlers that won a County Title, and in 1994 he was manager of our Intermediate Hurlers who were defeated in the replayed County Final. In the mid 1990’s Tony again saw the need in the club to enter a third football team and over the course of a number of years he headed up this team winning Divisional Honors.
Tony was always a proud Waterford man and the County certainly benefitted from his time and commitment in many ways. As a player Tony was a member of the County Panel for a number of years and he was on the panel for the 1963 All Ireland Final. When he finished playing Tony took up refereeing and went on to referee County Senior Finals. On the administrative front he served as Chairman of County Bord na nÓg for five years putting in place structures that ensured the smooth and efficient running of the underage championships. At his side throughout this time was Vincent Mulligan who if anything was even more efficient than Tony and helped him greatly in re-organising the Board. But it is a team manager that Tony made his greatest Contribution to the County. In 1974 he was manager of the County Under 21 team that were defeated in the All Ireland Final and in the late 1980’s with the county teams fortunes at rock bottom he took over the County Senior side and over the course of three years he resurrected the County from division four hurling to division one. Tony was presented with a National Manager of the Month award in 1987 in recognition of his great work. In 1989 he was at the helm as Waterford defeated Cork in a replay to qualify for the Munster Final. 1992 saw what was undoubtedly his proudest day as in Nowlan Park the County under 21 hurlers defeated Offaly to claim a historic All Ireland title after a replay. In the mid 1990’s Tony returned as County Senior Manager and in the late 90’s he again took charge of the under 21 side for three years during this time many of the stars of the Waterford Senior team of the past decade first came to public attention.
Through his weekly newspaper column Tony shared his thoughts on GAA affairs at local and national level. When reporting on games Tony never sought to be sensationalist or to seek popularity, just to give an accurate and fair account of the game whilst always trying to present the GAA in the best possible light. He would try to give every club the best possible treatment and would regularly hand out old photos at County Board Meetings seeking names of the teams included in the photos. Once again for Tony it was always about trying to help clubs in any way possible.
With our club’s fortunes at a bit of a low ebb at the end of the 1990’s Tony again answered the call to help the club, returning as Chairman, a position he held until his passing. Tony set about reorgainising the club on a variety of fronts. On the administrative front he held regular club meetings and thanks to diligent planning turned the club finances around ensuring that the club was always kept in the black. As previously mentioned the under 21 grade was one very close to Tony’s heart and he priortised this Championship in the Club to help bring our under age players through to play Senior. Tony still felt he had something left to offer on the Coaching side and he led our Junior Hurlers to two County Titles continuing to work with the Intermediate side which also helped bring more young players through to play Senior Hurling and Football. It is worth noting that since his return as Chairman 13 years ago the club have won 49 Western and 36 County Titles, showing clearly how a well-run club can lead to success on the playing fields. The highlight of this time must surely be the victory over Kilcummin in Killarney in 2007 in the Munster Club Football Championship, when after the game Tony was in his element dealing with all the media enquires as to who were Ballinacourty. The club also returned to the ranks of Senior Hurling during Tony’s tenure and won the Club of the Year accolade on two occasions. Yet, perhaps his greatest legacy to us is the re-development work that has taken place in our grounds in recent years. Throughout this work Tony was always careful not to place too great a financial burden on the club but at the same time he was determined to have the best facilities in place for our players. The installation of state of the art flood lighting brought him great satisfaction, as did news before Christmas that we has received a grant to help construct a ball alley. However it was the acquisition of a new club pitch that brought him most pleasure as it had been a burning ambition of Tony’s to get extra land for the club for some time. Despite being unwell in recent weeks he kept himself fully up to date with the negotiations and was thrilled to hear that the negotiations finally proved fruitful. Up until his final moments it was the future of Abbeyside / Ballinacourty that occupied his mind.
I hope that this tribute goes some way to illustrating the remarkable contribution that Tony Mansfield made to our club. No doubt there are some things which I have left out as in a life as full as the one Tony lived it would not be possible to cover every aspect of Tony’s time in our club. As I said last week it is his great friendship, loyalty and always sound advice that we will miss the most. We have lost a true legend of the GAA from our midst and it behoves us all to endeavour to make our club the best that it possibly can be, continuing to work in the spirit that Tony did for so many years.

Jack The Joker
No. Drawn - 14
Our popular Jack the Joker Fundraiser will continue this Sunday night in Kennedy’s Live where the Jackpot will be €9,308 as on Sunday night James, Jack and Joey were drawn out of the drum but did not find the Joker, however they did win €50, while Dennis Cosgrave and Pat Grant won €25. The following are the numbers that haven’t been turned yet 2, 3, 9, 11, 12, 17, 18, 23, 26, 30, 32, 34, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53.

Under 21 Football
On Friday night last we defeated St.Olivers in the Western Final on a scoreline of 2:12 to 1:12. This was a cracking game of football and despite building up a big lead twice during the game we had to withstand a fierce comeback from our opponents to retain our Divisional Title. This victory was a great boost to all in the club coming so soon after the passing of our Club Chairman and team captain Ronan Sheehan paid a fitting tribute to Tony in his acceptance speech. We now move on to face Rathgormack in the County Final on Wednesday night next.

On behalf of all in the club we would like to congratulate Niamh Briggs on her fantastic achievement of being part of the historic Ireland Ladies Rugby team who won the Grand Slam on Sunday with victory over Italy. Niamh scored all of Ireland’s points on the day and emerged as the top points scorer in the Championship. Niamh is an all-round sports star as she played football for many years for our Ladies team as well as the County team and we look forward to following her sporting career for many years to come.

Club Bingo
Our Bingo continues this Sunday night in the CBS Hall where the jackpot is €1200.

Membership fees are now due and can be paid to Jonathan O’Donovan or Kevin Tobin or indeed any member of the club committee. We would ask that all players make an effort to pay their membership as soon as possible as training has now resumed with a number of Championships beginning in the next number of weeks.

Deise Development Draw
Over the next number of weeks members of our club will once again be calling to the people of our parish seeking your support for the Deise Development Draw which will begin at the end of March. The format of the draw is similar to previous years with nine monthly draws costing €10 a month. Each month there will be a prize fund of €15,600 so as well as supporting our club you will be in with a chance of winning some fantastic prizes.
Club History
Abbeyside / Ballinacourty GAA Club was formed in 1967 as a result of the amalgamation of Abbeyside Hurling and Football Clubs and Ballinacourty Football Club. It is situated within the Parish of Abbeyside, Ballinroad and Garranbane. Located on the eastern side of the River Colligan, it forms the northern and eastern shorelines of Dungarvan Harbour from Abbeyside Church to Ballinacourty Lighthouse
Development Fund
Abbeyside/Ballinacourty GAA Club has been growing at a dramatic pace over the past 10 years with the population of our parish increasing rapidly. We must ensure that we have the best facilities for all our players. We want to ensure that the next generation have the facilities that they need and deserve. We are asking supporters and friends to support this project over the next five years.
Strategic Plan
Past generations have had their visions for the future of our club. These are our current aims and with these achieved we hope to hand on the club to future generations in the same healthy state it was passed onto us.
Abbeyside/Ballinacourty GAA Club, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland.
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