The power of the GAA and community spirit in general were in full flow in Esker Hills Golf Club last Friday and Saturday as over 200 golfers took place in a Golf classic aimed at raising funds for one of Clara GAA's great servant's – John Buckley.
Clara GAA Chairman Brian Gavin commented at the prize giving on Saturday that John Buckley has given unbroken service as either a player or a mentor since he was six years old.
John Buckley was recently diagnosed with cancer and the golf classic and subsequent social night was organised to both raise funds for his treatment and as a show of togetherness from the GAA and local communities.
Just 41 years of age, John Buckley is very well known in GAA circles. He won Senior Football Championship medals with Clara in 2003, when he was sub goalie and in 2009, when he was between the posts – a very good goalkeeper, he made an absolutely crucial contribution to that win as he denied Roy Malone a winning goal.
He was the captain and goalkeeper as Clara won the Junior Football Championship in 1999, when they went on to win the Leinster title, and 2007 and since then, he has given great service in managing teams in his club.
His illness has resulted in the closure of his local butchers shop in Clara – he had taken over the business a few years ago after his father Carthage, retired.
The champagne scramble event was ran over two days with over 50 teams taking part and the weather gods were certainly on their side with dry and calm conditions over the two days and that was a big plus considering the time of year.
With prizes for both GUI and NON GUI teams, there was no shortage of winners on the day with the main prize on the day for the top GUI team going to Catch Molloy, John Brennan, Michael Haverty and Alan Scully.
Clare native and professional golfer Shane Lowry was also present on the day and he played his part in the day being a massive success. Former Kerry footballer Colm Cooper was also in the presence of Lowry while the likes of former Dublin footballer Keith Barr, former Offaly greats Ciaran McManus, John Troy, Daithi Regan, Michael Duignan, Colm Quinn, Roy Malone, John Kenny and Mark Daly all took part.
As well as the golf, there was also an auction when play finished on the Saturday. A Kerry jersey worn by Colm Cooper in a League final was auctioned, as was a Dublin jersey signed by the 2018 winning panel and a pair of All Ireland final tickets with the auction conducted by Michael Duignan.
The final piece of the day was a social night in the Clara GAA Centre with a wide range of music on the night including the great Declan Nerney. Local band the Secrets were the main band on show with a host of other local artists also appearing while along with the cameo from Declan Nerney, there was also an appreance from Aidan Tierney of Tierney Talks.
Speaking at the prize giving, Clara GAA Chairman Brian Gavin thanked everyone who took part in the golf and for the generous sponsorship that they received in the form of prizes and tee box sponsors.
He thanked Ray Molloy and the staff at Esker Hills for having the course in such good condition while a presentation was made to Shane Lowry to acknowledge his contribution. A framed Offaly jersey signed by all Offaly's winning All Ireland hurling and football teams was presented to him by the great Tony McTague while two more of those jerseys were also auctioned off.
The day was a massive success and a testament to the power of what the GAA and in particular John Buckley means to people in Clara and indeed the wider GAA world.
While their were people from all walks of life present, there was a real GAA feel to the event as they rallied around one of their own.