CORK LGFA PRO Peter O’Leary fully deserves his National Ladies Gaelic Football Association award following his Trojan efforts over the past year.
The Castletownbere native did a fantastic job of keeping fans and supporters up to date with the latest club and inter-county news during numerous lockdowns.
A huge demand for team-sheets, latest scores, scorers, full-time results, photos, video clips and press releases saw O’Leary churn out news on an almost daily basis via the county LGFA’s social media channels.
Cork LGFA’s Twitter account (with more than 10,900 followers) and Instagram (more than 2,000) followers were grateful for the PRO’s efforts especially with no supporters allowed attend matches in the most difficult of years.
“This past year in particular, it was all about making as much information available as possible,” the Cork LGFA PRO said. “There was a huge amount of effort involved but I believe, if you really enjoy something, you don’t look upon it as work. It was nice, this past year more than any other, to be able to help so many people stuck at home unable to attend matches.
“That meant a bigger demand on the PRO role. That’s why a massive amount of people turned to social media looking for team news and score-lines. I tried to get to as many club games as possible. I have always felt that it is important players’ efforts are highlighted no matter what grade or level they are playing at.
“I’ll keep updating the scores and putting out the information until I finally get a bit of sense and eventually move on from the role," he laughs.
As well as being a referee, Peter O’Leary’s dedication to ladies football has involved many years of coaching and management roles. Having worked in the Cork junior and senior B backroom teams, the Inch Rovers club man kickstarted Cork’s U13 girl’s development programme.
Those efforts culminated in O’Leary helping the Cork U14s to All-Ireland glory at the expense of Galway in June 2019. That U14 squad retains a special place in O’Leary’s thoughts as well as the Waterford and Tipperary intermediates with whom the Castletownbere man enjoyed similar success.
“I trained the Waterford intermediate ladies team in 2011 and we won the Munster championship that year,” O’Leary noted.
“Waterford were unlucky to lose an All-Ireland quarter-final that year to Cavan but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. In 2016, I was involved with the Tipperary intermediates and we also won a provincial title that year. Heartbreakingly, we lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Clare by a single point. So, that means I’m one of the few that’s won Munster titles with three different counties.
“I’ve enjoyed so many great days out with the Cork juniors, senior B and seniors but the one constant through all of that time has been the players. If you don’t have the players, you have nothing. I get much more satisfaction out of playing a small part in helping young players like that achieve their goals more than anything else.”
The pandemic means a return to on-field action will not occur until the HSE and government deem it absolutely is safe to do so. Yet, for Peter O’Leary, his Cork LGFA role remains as busy as ever.
“I am hoping my P45 arrives in the post someday," laughs O’Leary.
“All jokes aside, I don’t think that is happening anytime soon.
It is very hard to know when Ephie Fitzgerald and the senior setup will be allowed back out to train again let alone start playing.
"Everyone is in the same boat. The players along with their families are the key people in all of this. Keeping everyone safe is the most important thing for the LGFA right now.
“I want to get back out there as much as the players and management do. I bought a new pair of boots, even at my age, in anticipation of getting back out there.”
The LGFA held a virtual ceremony on Friday via the association’s official Facebook Page. Peter O’Leary was honoured along with Rosscarbery’s Sandra O’Donoghue who won the 2020 Young Volunteer of The Year award.