Club is family. Never underestimate it.
We all have a deeply embedded need to belong. To be part of something that is for the greater good. To help, to contribute, to take part, to be involved.
Yesterday in St Anne’s Park Raheny, the spiritual home ground of Raheny Shamrock, the family had a gathering like no other.
It started early. January can be bleak. But the second Sunday means the Dublin Masters CC. It’s all hands on deck. If you have volunteered to assist with course construction and you arrive at 8:30, the designated meeting time, it is likely you will feel slightly embarrassed.
Their waiting patiently will be an army of 20 family members, eager and ready to do whatever it is that has to be done.
Can we stake and tape the course, erect the tent, distribute the numbers, steward the course, and direct the traffic. Whatever it is we are here to serve. This is what is we expect. This is what we signed up for.
And yes we felt the hand of an external presence. Yes this year was a bit different. We have mourned for 15 months now and still it lingers.
We may have spoken to him a day, a week, a month before he left us but still we feel we never said goodbye properly, never thanked him for all he had done.
As soon as the Dublin Board announced their intention to commission and sponsor the Pat Hooper Cup for the overall most successful club at the Dublin Masters, somewhere deep inside the Club family it became a need, nay an obsession that this particular Trophy had to be annexed. Keeping Pat Hooper in Raheny was non-negotiable.
Periodic snooping at rival websites kept us alive to the fact that there were some anxious to spoil the party. Our great rivals 5K up the Oscar Traynor Road, goaded with talk of specialised Masters Training Days. The Phoenix Park Clubs grew wise to the concept of “half the job is getting them out” and entered huge squads.
Before we knew it battle had commenced. The Raheny ladies, feeling and loving the pressure in equal measure threw themselves into battle like their lives depended upon it. The home crowd, largely bedecked in green, unequivocal in both their support and bias were noisy and raucous.
Everyone was relevant and important. There were two vital victories delivered by the W50 and W65 teams, the W35 team were 6th in an incredibly competitive race.
There were Individual golds for Adrienne Atkins (F55) and Mary Lynch (F70) , Silvers for Sarah Quigley (F40), Orla Gormley(F55), Jean Dunne (F60) and Patricia Lorigan(F65) and bronze Zoe Quinn(F45), Brid NiChonnaill(F50) and June Cummiskey(F70).
But at half-time it was tight. Clonliffe led with 22 points, Sportsworld and Raheny were tied on 20. A big second half was needed.
Time to roll the dice.
The Raheny men did not know the score at that stage but they sure knew the weight of expectation. It showed from the gun.
Baby Master Mick Clohisey took the race from the gun and never let up. His M35 team mates rowed in behind him and along with the M65 team delivering the decisive team wins. The M50 team were a magnificent fourth.
The skies cleared and the world became a happier place. We sensed it but needed the final declaration.
As the Chairman of the Board presented Individual medallists, Mick Clohisey(M35), Ciaran McCarthy(M45) and Tom Loftus(M65) with their Gold medals there was also Silver for Ian Conroy(M40) and Bronze for Gary Aylward (M60).
It was all building up to the kind of stuff Pat Hooper loved. He always loved a good presentation. But this time he was orchestrating from the great land in the Sky. And we were celebrating the man himself. The Man who brought the Masters to Raheny.
The man who made it the place to be on the second Sunday in January. We never wanted you to leave us Pat. We could not imagine life without you.
His daughter Bronagh delivered an oration of appreciation that stoked the emotions. Chairman Mick Martin and ladies captain Orla Manley accepted the Trophy on behalf of the Clan.
We gathered them all, the volunteers, the Stewards, the competitors, the supporters. We came together the way families do.
We know we cannot get you back Pat so the only thing we could do on this January day was keep your cup in Raheny. We feel we did you proud.