Wicklow GAA has many notorious stories of legends of the past and their exploits and adventures have been recounted over many’s the pint in the pubs of Ireland’s Finest County, but Wicklow is blessed with one such legend who is very much still in full flight and making many new and wonderful tales. The legend we speak of is Donard Glen’s Paddy Toomey who is and has very much been one of the finest GAA men this county has ever and will likely ever produce.
Hard as the Granite in the mountains found around Donard, Paddy Toomey is very much a maverick figure who enjoys the more rough and tumble aspect of the GAA and is as proud and hardworking a club man as you are likely to find. He is also a questionable time keeper, a budding rally driver, quite partial to the craic and the colour pink but above all he is a passionate GAA man as the stories and photos from those who know him best will depict below.
Married to the lovely Maura and proud father to Jacko, Rory, Colm (Shorty), Liam (Bill), Kevin (Rasher), Suzanne and Roisin, we will endeavor to share with you a little insight into this well known Publican and the self proclaimed Best Centre Back in County Wicklow.
Paddy’s timekeeping is not high on his priority list as the phrase “Tog off lads we’re late” was heard by almost every young lad and lady in Donard on the way to every juvenile match. As one player said “About 6 or 7 of us from every corner of Donard and the Glen bet into the back of a 306 van flying around the back roads.” On one such evening going to a handball match the inevitable happened as Paddy took a corner but unfortunately the Peugeot didn’t! Funnily the reports are that not one scratch was seen on any Toomey but everyone else ended up in Hospital! Another story highlights how Paddy would go above and beyond for Donard and ensure every player that was available got to the game, no matter what rules of the road were broken in doing so as Enda Walshe recalls:
Years ago myself and Tom Byrne were heading out of Dublin for a match when Byrne’s Fiat broke down. SOS sent out to Paddy. He picked us up in Tallaght and drove like a madman to make the match in Shillelagh. He drove the full length of Blessington down the wrong side of the road passing cars out. Myself and Byrne slunk down in the seats “mortified”. Paddy’s response “brrrrrrrr fuck them lads we can’t be late for this game”.
There’s the story of Donard’s brief spell as two separate clubs and Donard were playing The Glen “Away” and Paddy was brought on as a sub, ran straight in and boxed Liam Whyte and walked straight back off as the ref rushed the red out of his pocket.
As a man who loves a bit of bite in a game Paddy was watching Mayo take on Galway a couple of months ago and Mayo’s Dermot O’Connor got sent off for elbowing a lad straight in the face. Everyone in the pub said it was a disgraceful tackle and a definite red. Paddy however disagreed and said he would give him a medal for a tackle like that.
To further back up his love of physical contact, a Donard player got sent off playing a junior match a good few years ago. The payer in question recounts the minutes after the sending off:
Got to the side line had me head down, was a bit pissed off. A few of the team mates getting on to me. Paddy just looked at me saying “for f*ck sake son why didn’t you wait till the ref wasn’t looking”
Instructions for a Chance Encounter with Paddy:
1. If you’re in Toomey’s and he mentions football, be prepared for a conversation no less than 2 hours long
2. If you want to get on his side, mention how soft football has gone nowadays and that the days of hard men are gone
3. Come down to Toomey’s, get him to stick on an old DVD of him doing commentary on one of Donard’s old matches and just, as Buff Egan says, DRINK IT IN MAN
A Great Club Man:
Stan Whyte recalls how Paddy would not let Donard down no matter what the job and maybe proves beyond doubt that he was wasted at centre back:
“About 12 or 13 years ago we were short numbers for a game out in Coolkenno I think it was. Toomey came on near the end of the game in a pair of wellies in corner forward and if i remember right he kicked a point as well, think it was even a senior game.”
A line from one of Paddy’s infamous commentaries.. A certain Donard player was having a set too with a Rathnew player… Paddy shouts out in his commentary.. “Hit ’em up son whatever you do don’t let him know you are afraid of him”!! Just slightly embarrassing for that player when the video was played later that night in the pub. It was hardly re-winded 20 times!
Another line from a commentary from a match against Dunlavin in a League final “that young …………….. lad has the makings of a brilliant footballer….. his oul fella is an awful mouthpiece though”
Paddy is currently in charge of the Donard Glen Junior C team who unfortunately came up short in last nights semi final clash with Kilcoole when only one win away from a county final place. Along the way to last nights semi final they faced Blessington in the earlier stages of the campaign and Paddy’s tactical approach for this game was clear to all players from the pre match huddle. As Donard Captain Gavin Walshe came back from the coin toss into the lads huddle, the boys were asking what way are we playing Gav? Gavin told them and said that the ref is not going to have any back talk, Paddy turns “yea but can we use the shoulder, did he say we can use the shoulder, these are only a towny team boys…”
On the threat posed by opposing teams:
“Barndarrig are after getting their act together.. strong mountain men, good tradition”
Another story of the lengths Paddy would go to make sure that Donard were sure to field a team is shown in all its true glory with this story from his son who had just arrived back home on a holiday with his family:
Just back home on hols last night. As I drove in the driveway Paddy was throwing a mouldy pair of boots into his car. “I have your boots Bill, we’re short and sure if we’ve enough we’ll give you the last 5 mins. Don’t worry about the 3 kids, Maura will look after them.”
Paddy is a big believer in getting the ex pats togged flown home and togged out for Championship action as one source revealed:
“Paddy has a love of lads returning on airplanes from abroad around championship time and his excitement about what they’ll add to the team, then the inevitable happens and said returning star isn’t quite what paddy remembered in his dreams, match lost or ex pat substituted then back to Toomey’s where paddy declares ex pat is past it or in some cases “he never had it son, always let us down on the big days.” Happens at least 3/4 times a year”
Paddy was also the first manager in the clubs history to bring a team international as he took the Donard Junior team to a GAA tournament in Holland last year which was great craic but the best stories from that trip were unfortunately not revealed to us!
He also holds no favourites when it comes to his own kids as his own lads get more abuse than anyone else especially Billy T. Every Donard Player that ever togged out would have been asked the immortal question “Are u fit son?”
Pink is Paddy’s Colour:
1. Favourite Donard Glen Footballer of all time and why? Jim Rodgers: Super Player, Good drinker
2. Favourite current player from any Wicklow Club and why? Rory Toomey D/G Junior Team Hard Man
3. Favourite ever Wicklow Club player? Peter Clarke, Manor Kilbride
4. What club do you most enjoy beating and why? Dunlavin & Hollywood Local Derby’s
5. What other Wicklow GAA club would you respect the most and why? Rathnew; always at the top since GAA began
6. Toughest opponent you ever faced? Never worried about any opponent
7. Favourite moment involved with Donard Glen? 1972; Junior Final against the Billie’s
8. Which of your talented offspring is the best in GAA terms? Shorty (Colm); but don’t tell him that! Rasher (Kevin) has the most medals
9. The funniest thing you’ve seen on the GAA field? Roisin in a Camogie Match in Aughrim. 12yrs old and she hit an 18yr old and said Suzie OK’d it
10. The Donard Bonfires are fairly famous, which team has the best chance this year of having one lit to celebrate a County Final Win? Donard Junior Team I Hope
11. Whats your take on the current lack of neutral umpires and linesmen for Championship matches? It doesn’t bother most refs, Good refs don’t care, can manage without them
12. You’ve managed quite a few teams in your time, what has been the biggest management challenge you’ve ever faced? Every year with Junior Team. 2 Finals, 2 Semi- Finals, No Win
13. Back in your juvenile management days, the availability of buses was short so chaps had to be ferried to games by whatever means necessary. What’s the most chaps you’ve ever had in the one car travelling to a game? In a Cortina Estate I had the full team. Donard Small Schools Team. Kevin, Liam, etc.
14. There have been many famous GAA Pintmen over the years but who was the drunkest man you’ve ever thrown into action early on a Sunday morning? Probably The Looney or Joe Flynn
15. What’s the best game you ever played in? Co Final 1972
16. What’s the best game you’ve ever played? Co Final 1972
17. What advice would you give to the current day GAA players? Transfer to Co Kildare
18. If you were County Chairman what changes would you make to improve Wicklow GAA? I would kick out all the present Co Board & most of Club Reps.
19. Behind every good GAA man there’s a better woman. What does the lovely Mrs Toomey make of all the GAA goings on and how important has she been to you and Donard over the years? Would not print answer!!
20. Football has gone fairly soft in comparison to the old days. What’s the worst row you can remember in a Wicklow GAA match and talk ya through what happened? When I was young there was a row in every game against local teams. Worst I ever saw was in Aughrim about 1958 Donard V Baltinglass
21. What current Wicklow Club team would you like to take charge of and why? Donard only
22. What is your best memory from all your years involved in the GAA? Too many Good and Bad
23. The most thrown together team you’ve ever sent out to slaughter? Every Thursday in Division 4 before they stopped U18 playing.
24. Name the best Wicklow GAA 15 of all time: Same as 25
25. Name the best Donard Glen 15 of all time: Wont answer that one said I got into trouble a few times for leaving lads off
Arklow Bay Hotel Junior C Football Championship