By Damian Dolan
A fundraising night for the family of popular referee Mattie Maher is a way of repaying his massive contribution to the GAA in London, says Neil O’Shea.
O’Shea, who was involved with Maher’s club Moindearg, is one of the organisers behind the event on Saturday (27 May) at Tir Chonaill Gaels in Greenford.
Maher died suddenly last year while officiating an All-Britain Gaelic football match between Lancashire and Hertfordshire in Watford.
He was 60 years of age and lived in Uxbridge, West London, with his wife, Denise, and their two young children, Ciara and Matthew, both of whom play underage for Tir Chonaill Gaels.
O’Shea hopes London’s GAA community will come out in force on the night.
“He gave so much to Moindearg and the GAA in London – he epitomised what the GAA is about, volunteering,” said O’Shea, who joined Moindearg in 2004 and served as treasurer.
“We had to do something, and this is our way of giving something back.”
O’Shea added: “Mattie did so much refereeing, so it would be nice to show our appreciation for a guy who refereed hurling and football, and All-Britain.
“It would be good if as many of the London GAA community could come out and support the event on the night.”
A gofundme page has already been set up with the hope of raising £20,000, with all monies going to Maher’s family.
“We’ve had some good support and a big thank you to everyone who has donated so far. We’re a quarter of the way towards our target,” said O’Shea.
An array of auction prizes have already been pledged and there are also plans for an exhibition match at Greenford between past Moindearg players and a team made up of referees (5pm).
Maher, from Rosegreen in Co Tipperary, was a well-known and “larger-than-life character” in London and British GAA circles.
He was regularly appointed to oversee senior county hurling and Gaelic football finals.
A no nonsense referee who wouldn’t stand for any back-chat, Maher could still enjoy the Craic with the players during a game.
As well as being one of London GAA’s top officials for many years, he was also secretary, county board delegate and manager of Moindearg Gaelic football club for a long period.
He was initially involved with a club called St Theresa’s in Enfield before joining Willesden-based Moindearg in 1999 as the team’s trainer.
He progressed to coach and then manager, and in 2010 guided the club to an intermediate championship title. They also won the Murphy Cup that year.
Although the stint at senior level was short, and the club dropped down to junior grade, in 2014 Moindearg bounced back by doing the clean sweep, winning the junior championship, Division 3 of the league, the McArdle Cup and the Mullarkey Cup.
“That was a particularly proud moment for him,” says O’Shea, who was part of that team.
“Mattie was secretary, county board delegate, team manager and trainer. I don’t think he ever missed a Moindearg match.
“He was great fun; he’d always arrive into the dressing room laughing and joking.
“We had some good days and rarely a season went by when he didn’t have to pull on a jersey himself to fulfil fixtures.”
The event at TCG on 27 May gets underway from 8pm and will include live music, a raffle and an auction.
For more information contact Neil O’Shea 07843 260407 or Mick Gannon 07956 214672.
To donate go to www.gofundme.com and search for ‘Benefit night for family of Mattie Maher 27th May’.