Every community needs a Martin Horgan

Martin Horgan

Martin Horgan

As was the norm, the last time I spoke with Martin Horgan, one of us was either coming or going to a football pitch. Trudging off with a bag of balls, shoving singlets into a box, making some arrangement for the pushing of some project or others, the complexion of sporting satisfaction evident in our visage. Perhaps because it was always in places like that that we encountered each other, my memories are so precious and so sad. Pitches were a playground in our youth, and in our more mature years, they still represent a leap from the reality of life. Perhaps that is why I love them so much. That reality hit home this week when Martin passed away, his death sending shockwaves throughout the sporting community in Galway and his wide circle of family and friends.

On that last occasion, that last chat, I saw him coming from me, his hair blowing in the wind, (the Horgans do great hair ) my heart lifted, because conversation with him was always worthwhile...and positive. Just yards away from the scene of our last chat stood one of the centrepieces of his legacy, the excellent new astro-turf pitch at Maree, the proud home of the burgeoning Maree Oranmore FC. We chatted for a while about that, the state of the game, the plans to build another and as always, Martin was more than grateful for any bit of publicity that I might have given him. But such was his approach, his geniality, his enthusiasm, that frankly, it was never possible to refuse him anything but the best for whatever he was involved in.

Martin was just into his sixties when he passed away; a few years older than myself, but from a generation that played sport on facilities far removed from what our clubs have today. That superb 4G pitch which he had driven for his club at Maree possesses a rich luxurious artificial turf on which the younger generations can hone their skills. Not for them the muddied fields, the puddled goalmouths, the jumpers for goalposts. Martin drove the campaign for this facility and was at the forefront of the latest one to create another such pitch. There is no doubt in whose honour it should be named.

Everyone who has any grá for football in this town or county will have come across him. Not just in the great work he did as a teacher at St Mary’s when his obvious love for the game would capture the hearts of his students. The many times, he dipped into his own pocket to put chips into returning football teams, to help with a pair of boots or gear, to make sure everyone got a lift and a chance.

His life was all about making the lives of others better and my God, isn’t that the best thing you can say about anyone. Generations have played sport because of him; the players he nurtured in school at club level; and the next generation of those players who learned their love of sport from those who had learned it from Martin. and all of those who will kick a ball on a pitch he created.

His list of sporting achievements would stretch beyond this page and I leave that to his schools and clubs to document.

To his family, Caroline and children Kevin, Aisling and Cian, his sister Mary and brothers Gerard and Ollie, the warmest of hugs for the massive loss that you have suffered. We thank you for lending him to us for so long to enable him to do so much. To his colleagues in Maree Oranmore FC, my condolences. I will miss him sorely from my encounters around the pitches of this city and county.

Communities need more Martin Horgans...people who will give of themselves so that so many young people can kick a ball, chase a dream and do so in comfort and facilities that allow them to be the best they can. Let us honour him by enabling such voluntary and good-hearted spirit to flourish in all our places. God rest him.


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