This article originally was published in the Allianz Football League Division 2 Round 4 (Meath v Louth) match programme on February 26 2023
There is no doubt that today’s game in Páirc Tailteann can be described as a ‘big’ game…clashes between the footballers of Meath and Louth can almost always be described as ‘big’ and the attendance is also expected to be ‘big’.
‘Big’ or ‘small’, they all require stewarding and it is this aspect that highlights the role of arguably the GAA’s most precious asset, its volunteers.
The players on both teams today are unquestionably the star attractions. Their performances will be the subject of the post-match debate. Likewise, the referee and his officials will be under intense scrutiny from the throw-in, And the supporters will also contribute hugely to the occasion. There will also be a significant media presence.
But there is a group whose contribution to the occasion is largely overlooked…the stewards. All too often, their presence is taken for granted. But we can rely on them to be there…in their fluorescent bibs…in their specific positions and in their specific roles. They will be there long before the players, supporters or media personnel. And they will be there long after the crowd has dispersed. They will be there…hail. rain or even snow (Meath v Kildare 2019)!
Liam Gaffney’s role is to look after the wheelchair viewing area. It’s a role he takes seriously and his efforts are greatly appreciated by those who are unable to watch from the stand or terrace. His friendly manner and efficiency are of great assistance to the spectators and enhances their enjoyment of the games.
His involvement as a steward stretches back for 30 years when he was influenced by his Summerhill club colleagues Colm Gannon, the then County Board Treasurers and Brendan Ryan who is also stewarding for the same length of time. He has also been stewarding in Croke Park for the last 10 years.
Like most of his fellow stewards, Liam has a distinguished record of service at club level. He was on the Baconstown team that won the JHC in 1964 and was captain when they won the Intermediate title 2 years later, He won a 2nd JHC medal with the Maroons in 1973 and was a selector and substitute when they won the Junior title again in Centenary year.
His football career began with the Kilcloon minors in the early 1960’s and he went on to play for Summerhill but missed out on a Championship medal when they were beaten by Batterstown in the 1972 Div. 2 Final.
He has also served as County Board delegate for both Baconstown and Summerhill.
The principal duties of Liam and his fellow stewards today are to ensure that, irrespective of the result, we all enjoy the game in safety and a degree of comfort. We are in good hands.
Cover image of Liam Gaffney, Jim Cooney & Seamus Smyth at Meath v Donegal on 02-02-2020. Photograph via Brian Mulligan.
Posted in: General News / Nuacht Ginearálta