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Face to Face with Cuthbert Donnelly. Mention the name Cuthbert Donnelly in any GAA gathering and everyone will know immediately to whom you are referring, whether that is in Tyrone, Dublin or Wexford. Mention his name in many other settings and he will be known for his kindness, his humanity, his respect for others, and his other Christian virtues, as son many will have experienced his warmth and friendship. Cuthbert was born in 1942 a few miles from Aughnacloy to John and Sarah Donnelly. He attended St. Mary’s Primary School, Aughnacloy, and then completed his education in Scotland. In 1968 he married Mary, nee Mullen, and they have two sons, Michael and Stephen. Retirement. Cuthbert worked in the Prudential Insurance industry until his retirement a couple of years ago. He is now as busy, if not busier, than when he was in full time employment. Apart from his voluntary work with various organisations, the local parish and the GAA, he is helping his son, Stephen, to get his new house ready for occupancy and, being from a farming background, he is not afraid of a bit of hard work and physical labour. He is constantly ‘on the go’ and seems to have endless energy. Of course that is why he is in such demand as he will ensure that the work will be done efficiently and in quick time. He is also sought for his advice and guidance, which is always given and will include a great deal of common sense. GAA. However it is his involvement in the GAA that gives him countrywide prominence. His early contact with GAA goes back to the time that his family killed pigs, as most farmers did. The bladder was always kept and dried for use as a football. They used hang it up on the hedge or hang it over a boiler in the outhouse to dry it and then use a whang to tie it after it is blown up. He would then go down to Stansfield and play football with Eric and Oliver in the garden. Present day footballers would surely take a second look if asked to play a game with that. Cuthbert’s attempts to become a footballer of note failed though he was always there to help his club, Aghaloo. He then became involved in the administration and also served as a referee. He was a County Delegate for his club and at a meeting in Carrickmore he was proposed for a position on the GAC and thus began his career with the Tyrone Committee, which included the office of County Chairman. Ulster Council and Croke Park have also benefited from his work and experience. For any GAA fan the ultimate dream is for your county to win the Sam Maguire. Tyrone fans waited decades to no avail and Cuthbert was reaching the point where he was beginning to doubt if it would ever happen in his life time when the big break came. In September 2003 Tyrone was All-Ireland champions for the first time and the sheer joy experienced by every Tyrone Gael was immeasurable. Cuthbert was no different but he was soon to be given a very important role – keeper of the Sam Maguire. Travelling with SAM. Over the following months he was to travel thousands of miles all over the world bringing Sam and joy to countless people – the young, the old, the sick, the dying, the healthy, the player, the men, the women, the boys and the girls. Cuthbert was with it everywhere it went and it was physically demanding but witnessing the ecstasy and happiness of people on touching Sam dispelled all feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Two years later he was to experience the same again when Tyrone captured their second All-Ireland title and it was no less rewarding for Cuthbert. He has great memories of those days – some sad and some delightful but all very satisfying. He recalls one 48 hour period where he attended a number of schools during the day followed by a function in Roscommon that night to arrive home at 4am. Next morning he was in a Hospice in Derry at 9am and on his way he wondered why he was doing all this. He was greeted by Bishop Daly at the Hospice and he soon realised why he was doing it and came back up the road feeling as if he were driving Concorde. That afternoon it was a hospital visit to Craigavon to a young girl, which was a wonderful experience seeing the joy on her face. While there a man, who was on his way for surgery, stopped everything until his wife would get the camera up from the car and take a photo of him with Sam. He then had another appointment with a doctor and patients from Armagh and it was well into the night when he got home. But next day it was back on the road again to other schools and other houses bringing joy, happiness and an occasion for so many. Sad and Happy. He related a story of a visit he made to a rural school in Wexford. The school surroundings were all decorated with red and white bunting and one young sick child was exceptionally pleased with the visit of Sam. At his funeral later the priest said that young boy’s greatest day was when the Tyrone man brought Sam to see him. There were many other very sad and moving times and occurrences but there was a great feeling of doing good and bringing happiness to so many. New York. A visit to New York stands out as being special too and he mentions, with appreciation, Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O’Neills Sportswear in Strabane. Kieran accompanied Cuthbert on some of his journeys and was very supportive with jerseys and other memorabilia. He was with him in Madison Square Gardens, New York, when they were called into the boxing ring during the Thompson V Duddy fight to display the Sam Maguire to the seven or eight hundred Irish or part Irish people there. During the contests that night both men were seated in the front row and Cuthbert had Sam safely tucked away under the seat. The TV cameras came over and were filming them endlessly. They were getting the big celebrity treatment and were beginning to enjoy it when Cuthbert got a tap on the shoulder and a gentleman said – ‘sorry for all the inconvenience with the cameras’. It was Liam Neeson and the cameras were filming him sitting in the second row and not the two Tyrone lads with the cup. Cuthbert would state clearly that he met so many wonderful people and made so many friends during those days and he was treated with the utmost kindness wherever he went. Road to Croker. When asked when it would happen again Cuthbert declared that he had said it would never happen but has been proven wrong twice. He is now saying ‘never’ again, with the hope that he can be proven wrong a third time. The campaign begins for Tyrone on June 8th against Down in Healy Park Omagh. He is confident that Tyrone can win this game. His son, Michael, is manager of the Mayobridge team and Cuthbert has seen them in action on a number of occasions. He says that the Tyrone defence will have to make sure that they cover Benny Coulter as he will be a major threat if not contained. Will Healy Park be an advantage? With the quality of most pitches today there is very little difference between them and so little advantage to be gained. Tyrone is hoping to get a central training ground and buildings off the ground very soon just off the Ballygawley/Omagh road, when planning permission has been granted. This will bring great benefits to Tyrone and relieve the pressure off clubs to provide the training facilities for county teams and at the same time keep their grounds in shape for their own club games. In this day and age it is essential that the county has this facility. The GAA must keep moving forward and make the game attractive for player and spectator and keep facilities modern or they will lose out to other sports. The club player must be the number 1 and looked after properly and have regular games for them. If a player trains all week they can expect to have a game at the weekend and players’ welfare must be a priority. Modern lifestyle is so much different from years ago. He can recall working in the hay field or the bog and then getting on the bicycle and heading to, perhaps, Shanko in Truagh. When you get there, change under a tree and leave the clothes on the bar of the bicycle, play a great game of football in the rain, and then cycle home again. There was no talk then of psychologists and physios and training programmes but it was very enjoyable. Now it appears to be – win at all costs. Substance Abuse. Cuthbert has been appointed ASAPO (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Officer) with the Tyrone Committee. The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drugs and the availability of support for those who become addicted. It is important to get the information out there so that people know where to go if they find themselves in trouble. One first step that has been taken by the GAA is to ban the ‘filling of cups’ as part of the celebrations and to change the mindset of people in this regard. Indeed when he was in charge of Sam there was one very strict rule – alcohol was not allowed in the Cup. It is senseless to see players going out and training hard and then going into the bar and undoing all the benefits they gained from the training and it is frightening to learn the number of under 12s who have already tasted their first alcohol drink. Parents need to be aware of the dangers and what can be done. Each club has appointed an ASAPO now and a county committee has been formed. The first official meeting will be on June 3rd and they hope to get the programme under way and there is a lot of work to be done according to Cuthbert. Retired or not Cuthbert has a full programme and Stephen can fill any spare moments. However with Ulster Council, County Committee and all the championship games over the summer he will be busy from first light to late at night. But then he also has his own club of Aghaloo, which elected him as President after he retired as Chairman after 30 years. His first preference is always to his club and the fine HQ they have built on the Monaghan road. He has one very serious worry at the moment as he fears for the safety of those pedestrians heading out to the HQ. He is attempting to have the 30 MPH speed limit extended beyond the pitch to improve safety and he would hope that that can happen in the very near future. Awards. Cuthbert has been a Pioneer since 1957 and is very involved in the PTAA. He has been awarded the Pioneer Personality of the Year 2008 but this is just one of a string of awards which have been presented to him over recent years. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious GAA President’s Award; Ulster GAA Writers Personality of the Year in 2006; Tyrone Man of the Year presented by County Tyrone Society in New York in 2006; and many other honours have been bestowed on him and richly deserved. Holidays Cuthbert rarely goes on holidays abroad but recently he and Mary enjoyed a great ‘Hooley in the Sun’ with Declan Nerney and Philomena Begley. There is no way that he is going to take holidays during the Summer as there is too much football. He has also passed his love and enthusiasm on to his sons as Michael is managing Mayobridge as we have said while Stephen is Captain of Aghaloo and an administrator with Ulster Council. As to who is going to win Ulster this year – Cuthbert answers – ‘The only definite thing at the moment is that Monaghan and Antrim cannot win it and I am not being disrespectful to them but I am saying no more’. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer. Cuthbert was not the only happy man This article is Copyright.
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Face to Face with Cuthbert Donnelly. Mention the name Cuthbert Donnelly in any GAA gathering and everyone will know immediately to whom you are referring, whether that is in Tyrone, Dublin or Wexford. Mention his name in many other settings and he will be known for his kindness, his humanity, his respect for others, and his other Christian virtues, as son many will have experienced his warmth and friendship. Cuthbert was born in 1942 a few miles from Aughnacloy to John and Sarah Donnelly. He attended St. Mary’s Primary School, Aughnacloy, and then completed his education in Scotland. In 1968 he married Mary, nee Mullen, and they have two sons, Michael and Stephen. Retirement. Cuthbert worked in the Prudential Insurance industry until his retirement a couple of years ago. He is now as busy, if not busier, than when he was in full time employment. Apart from his voluntary work with various organisations, the local parish and the GAA, he is helping his son, Stephen, to get his new house ready for occupancy and, being from a farming background, he is not afraid of a bit of hard work and physical labour. He is constantly ‘on the go’ and seems to have endless energy. Of course that is why he is in such demand as he will ensure that the work will be done efficiently and in quick time. He is also sought for his advice and guidance, which is always given and will include a great deal of common sense. GAA. However it is his involvement in the GAA that gives him countrywide prominence. His early contact with GAA goes back to the time that his family killed pigs, as most farmers did. The bladder was always kept and dried for use as a football. They used hang it up on the hedge or hang it over a boiler in the outhouse to dry it and then use a whang to tie it after it is blown up. He would then go down to Stansfield and play football with Eric and Oliver in the garden. Present day footballers would surely take a second look if asked to play a game with that. Cuthbert’s attempts to become a footballer of note failed though he was always there to help his club, Aghaloo. He then became involved in the administration and also served as a referee. He was a County Delegate for his club and at a meeting in Carrickmore he was proposed for a position on the GAC and thus began his career with the Tyrone Committee, which included the office of County Chairman. Ulster Council and Croke Park have also benefited from his work and experience. For any GAA fan the ultimate dream is for your county to win the Sam Maguire. Tyrone fans waited decades to no avail and Cuthbert was reaching the point where he was beginning to doubt if it would ever happen in his life time when the big break came. In September 2003 Tyrone was All-Ireland champions for the first time and the sheer joy experienced by every Tyrone Gael was immeasurable. Cuthbert was no different but he was soon to be given a very important role – keeper of the Sam Maguire. Travelling with SAM. Over the following months he was to travel thousands of miles all over the world bringing Sam and joy to countless people – the young, the old, the sick, the dying, the healthy, the player, the men, the women, the boys and the girls. Cuthbert was with it everywhere it went and it was physically demanding but witnessing the ecstasy and happiness of people on touching Sam dispelled all feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Two years later he was to experience the same again when Tyrone captured their second All-Ireland title and it was no less rewarding for Cuthbert. He has great memories of those days – some sad and some delightful but all very satisfying. He recalls one 48 hour period where he attended a number of schools during the day followed by a function in Roscommon that night to arrive home at 4am. Next morning he was in a Hospice in Derry at 9am and on his way he wondered why he was doing all this. He was greeted by Bishop Daly at the Hospice and he soon realised why he was doing it and came back up the road feeling as if he were driving Concorde. That afternoon it was a hospital visit to Craigavon to a young girl, which was a wonderful experience seeing the joy on her face. While there a man, who was on his way for surgery, stopped everything until his wife would get the camera up from the car and take a photo of him with Sam. He then had another appointment with a doctor and patients from Armagh and it was well into the night when he got home. But next day it was back on the road again to other schools and other houses bringing joy, happiness and an occasion for so many. Sad and Happy. He related a story of a visit he made to a rural school in Wexford. The school surroundings were all decorated with red and white bunting and one young sick child was exceptionally pleased with the visit of Sam. At his funeral later the priest said that young boy’s greatest day was when the Tyrone man brought Sam to see him. There were many other very sad and moving times and occurrences but there was a great feeling of doing good and bringing happiness to so many. New York. A visit to New York stands out as being special too and he mentions, with appreciation, Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O’Neills Sportswear in Strabane. Kieran accompanied Cuthbert on some of his journeys and was very supportive with jerseys and other memorabilia. He was with him in Madison Square Gardens, New York, when they were called into the boxing ring during the Thompson V Duddy fight to display the Sam Maguire to the seven or eight hundred Irish or part Irish people there. During the contests that night both men were seated in the front row and Cuthbert had Sam safely tucked away under the seat. The TV cameras came over and were filming them endlessly. They were getting the big celebrity treatment and were beginning to enjoy it when Cuthbert got a tap on the shoulder and a gentleman said – ‘sorry for all the inconvenience with the cameras’. It was Liam Neeson and the cameras were filming him sitting in the second row and not the two Tyrone lads with the cup. Cuthbert would state clearly that he met so many wonderful people and made so many friends during those days and he was treated with the utmost kindness wherever he went. Road to Croker. When asked when it would happen again Cuthbert declared that he had said it would never happen but has been proven wrong twice. He is now saying ‘never’ again, with the hope that he can be proven wrong a third time. The campaign begins for Tyrone on June 8th against Down in Healy Park Omagh. He is confident that Tyrone can win this game. His son, Michael, is manager of the Mayobridge team and Cuthbert has seen them in action on a number of occasions. He says that the Tyrone defence will have to make sure that they cover Benny Coulter as he will be a major threat if not contained. Will Healy Park be an advantage? With the quality of most pitches today there is very little difference between them and so little advantage to be gained. Tyrone is hoping to get a central training ground and buildings off the ground very soon just off the Ballygawley/Omagh road, when planning permission has been granted. This will bring great benefits to Tyrone and relieve the pressure off clubs to provide the training facilities for county teams and at the same time keep their grounds in shape for their own club games. In this day and age it is essential that the county has this facility. The GAA must keep moving forward and make the game attractive for player and spectator and keep facilities modern or they will lose out to other sports. The club player must be the number 1 and looked after properly and have regular games for them. If a player trains all week they can expect to have a game at the weekend and players’ welfare must be a priority. Modern lifestyle is so much different from years ago. He can recall working in the hay field or the bog and then getting on the bicycle and heading to, perhaps, Shanko in Truagh. When you get there, change under a tree and leave the clothes on the bar of the bicycle, play a great game of football in the rain, and then cycle home again. There was no talk then of psychologists and physios and training programmes but it was very enjoyable. Now it appears to be – win at all costs. Substance Abuse. Cuthbert has been appointed ASAPO (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Officer) with the Tyrone Committee. The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drugs and the availability of support for those who become addicted. It is important to get the information out there so that people know where to go if they find themselves in trouble. One first step that has been taken by the GAA is to ban the ‘filling of cups’ as part of the celebrations and to change the mindset of people in this regard. Indeed when he was in charge of Sam there was one very strict rule – alcohol was not allowed in the Cup. It is senseless to see players going out and training hard and then going into the bar and undoing all the benefits they gained from the training and it is frightening to learn the number of under 12s who have already tasted their first alcohol drink. Parents need to be aware of the dangers and what can be done. Each club has appointed an ASAPO now and a county committee has been formed. The first official meeting will be on June 3rd and they hope to get the programme under way and there is a lot of work to be done according to Cuthbert. Retired or not Cuthbert has a full programme and Stephen can fill any spare moments. However with Ulster Council, County Committee and all the championship games over the summer he will be busy from first light to late at night. But then he also has his own club of Aghaloo, which elected him as President after he retired as Chairman after 30 years. His first preference is always to his club and the fine HQ they have built on the Monaghan road. He has one very serious worry at the moment as he fears for the safety of those pedestrians heading out to the HQ. He is attempting to have the 30 MPH speed limit extended beyond the pitch to improve safety and he would hope that that can happen in the very near future. Awards. Cuthbert has been a Pioneer since 1957 and is very involved in the PTAA. He has been awarded the Pioneer Personality of the Year 2008 but this is just one of a string of awards which have been presented to him over recent years. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious GAA President’s Award; Ulster GAA Writers Personality of the Year in 2006; Tyrone Man of the Year presented by County Tyrone Society in New York in 2006; and many other honours have been bestowed on him and richly deserved. Holidays Cuthbert rarely goes on holidays abroad but recently he and Mary enjoyed a great ‘Hooley in the Sun’ with Declan Nerney and Philomena Begley. There is no way that he is going to take holidays during the Summer as there is too much football. He has also passed his love and enthusiasm on to his sons as Michael is managing Mayobridge as we have said while Stephen is Captain of Aghaloo and an administrator with Ulster Council. As to who is going to win Ulster this year – Cuthbert answers – ‘The only definite thing at the moment is that Monaghan and Antrim cannot win it and I am not being disrespectful to them but I am saying no more’. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer. Cuthbert was not the only happy man This article is Copyright.