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Jim Cooney – The Volunteer

By Brian Kelly Tue 20th Feb

Jim Cooney – The Volunteer
Jim Cooney – The Volunteer

Back in the GAA’s Centenary Year, in 1984, an excellent documentary on the Association’s first 100 years was produced by RTE.. It made for compulsive viewing and was a much appreciated feature of the great occasion. Appropriately, it was entitled: “Sunday After Sunday”.


For GAA enthusiasts all over the country, and beyond, the title struck a chord …. Sunday After Sunday was what it was all about.


Times have changed, and in the intervening 40 years, it has become more like ‘Weekend After Weekend’. There are more games on Friday evenings and Saturdays than there were in 1984. And that means that there are more demands on the volunteers who willingly give so much of their time to the smooth running of our games.


Jim Cooney from Ballinabrackey is one such volunteer. He is the Head Steward in Páirc Tailteann, an important and demanding role and one which requires such qualities as dedication, reliability and diplomacy.


Jim Cooney ensures everything is running smoothly during the Allianz Football League Round 1 game against Tipperary in 2019. Photo via Brian Mulligan.


His dedication is outstanding…he has spent a lifetime in the service of the Association. He served his time as an enthusiastic clubman…he was the club’s delegate to the County Board for several years and he had a huge involvement with the Minor Board including a term as Chairman. He ferried the minor footballers from the south of the county to a multitude of training sessions and games at various locations around the country. He was also a selector with various county minor teams.


In terms of reliability, it would be difficult to find somebody who would surpass the Ballinabrackey man. He takes his role seriously and is a genuine ‘Sunday after Sunday’ man. Hail, rain or snow, he will make the long journey from the Offaly border to Páirc Tailteann in the company of his friend and fellow-steward Ned Bland. They will be among the first to arrive and the last to leave.


Jim’s role means that he doesn’t see every kick or puck of the ball. He has to ensure that the stewards are all in their allotted positions and that they, in turn, are ensuring that the spectators can enjoy the games in safety and comfort.


There are occasions when diplomacy and tact are required from the Head Steward. Supporters don’t always go where they are meant to go! And some team officials can also be difficult to deal with. Substitutes can also lose the run of themselves in a close encounter. And then there are the children who stray from their parents!


21-05-21, Allianz Hurling League, Division 2B, Round 1 at Pairc Tailteann, Navan Meath v Offaly Meath Official, Jim Cooney from Ballinabrackey retrieves the sideline flags in Pairc Tailteann after Meath lost to Offaly by 16 points (3-9 to 3-25) in the first round of the Div 2B game at Navan Photo: David Mullen /


Jim Cooney can be relied on to keep a close eye on what is happening and to take any action he deems necessary…he will deal with it in his own quiet unobtrusive way.


He epitomises all that is admirable about the GAA’s greatest asset…it’s volunteers.


The above article was originally published in the Allianz Football League Division 2 Round 3 match programme (Meath v Louth) on Sunday February 18.

By Brian Kelly Tue 20th Feb

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