The late Pat Lacey had a lasting impact on soccer in West Cork

Fundraiser by Riverside Athletic this weekend will honour his memory
The late Pat Lacey had a lasting impact on soccer in West Cork

Pat Lacey (middle), Stephen White, David White and Tom Doyle members of St Mary's GAA Club supported fellow clubman John Caulfield when he led Avondale United to Intermediate Cup glory. Picture: Mike English

WEST Cork League club Riverside Athletic’s virtual 5km walk/run in memory of Pat Lacey takes place this weekend.

The late Pat Lacey was both Treasurer and Manager of Riverside Athletic and known the length and breadth of the country thanks to many years supporting his hometown club. A native of Knockaneady, Lacey spent a large portion of his adult life working behind the scenes to keep his club afloat as well as assuming numerous voluntary roles on behalf of West Cork League and West Cork Schoolboys League committees.

Then chairman of the WCSL Pat Lacey, Kevin Davis, captain of Skibbereen U14, and Don Hurley Fixtures Secretary, following the 2009 West Cork Schoolboys U14 Cup final.
Then chairman of the WCSL Pat Lacey, Kevin Davis, captain of Skibbereen U14, and Don Hurley Fixtures Secretary, following the 2009 West Cork Schoolboys U14 Cup final.

Lacey’s interest in all sports clubs located in the local Ballineen and Enniskeane area was well known. Yet, it was the former WCSL Chairperson’s affection for soccer, most notably youths and underage soccer, that brought the Riverside clubman the most joy. I know first-hand that the WCSL Chairperson’s role brought Pat a huge sense of satisfaction and pride. Hardly surprising when you consider how much he lived and breathed his favourite sport.

To his eternal credit, the former chairperson was the main driving force behind the creation of West Cork Schoolboys League soccer blitzes for younger age groups in the region. 

To this day, Lacey’s vision resulted in (pre-Covid) hundreds of young boys and girls, between eight and 11, enjoying weekly indoor and outdoor blitzes in a fun and friendly environment.

A close friend of current Galway United manager and Ballineen-Enniskeane resident John Caulfield, Lacey once confided that his proudest day as a soccer supporter was when ‘our own Johnny C’ became Cork City’s manager.

Last year, a hardworking committee organised a Memorial Festival of Football 7-a-side soccer tournament in Lacey’s honour. Held at the BEDA Grounds in Ballineen, another club stalwart David O’Donovan and John Caulfield were part of the committee that successfully ran the one-day tournament. 

A prize-fund of €1,000 kindly sponsored by GP Wood was on offer for the winners. In a classy gesture that the late Pat Lacey would have appreciated, all proceeds collected on the day of the Memorial Festival of Football 7-a-side soccer tournament were distributed to local charities.

Since then, Lacey’s club Riverside Athletic has been unable to hold their main fundraisers, club lotto or annual table quiz, over the past two years.

The West Cork League club has decided to organise a virtual 5km walk/run fundraiser in memory of Pat this coming weekend. Riverside are encouraging everyone in the locality and further afield to come out and support their venture. Athletic are also asking that people complete their walk or run in a socially distanced manner as well as within a 5km radius of their respective homes.

“We would like to thank Pat’s Family for their shared interest in this fundraiser for our club and they have asked that everyone to send pictures or videos of their walk/run to our Riverside Athletic Facebook page,” the West Cork League club commented on social media.

“If people would like to share details of their walk or run, we would suggest using the Strava app to track their exercise over the weekend. We would like to stress that this is not a competition, just a bit of fun and exercise for us all to enjoy during these strange times. Please make sure to adhere to the current Covid-19 restrictions and protocols. If anyone has any questions please do not hesitate to message our Facebook page or contact any of our club’s members.” 

John Caulfield along with former Riverside Athletic club stalwart David O'Donovan announcing details of this weekend's Pat Lacey memorial walk/run fundraiser.
John Caulfield along with former Riverside Athletic club stalwart David O'Donovan announcing details of this weekend's Pat Lacey memorial walk/run fundraiser.

John Caulfield, one of Lacey’s closest friends, was heavily involved in last year’s tournament in memory of the West Cork League, West Cork Schoolboys League and Riverside Athletic stalwart. The league of Ireland manager commented on his former club’s upcoming memorial walk/run on the West Cork League side’s Facebook page.

“We are approaching the second anniversary of Pat Lacey, better known to his friends as ‘Lacers’ passing,” Caulfield commented.

“Riverside Athletic are facilitating a virtual 5km walk/run on February 27-28. I’m asking everyone who knew Pat, particularly those throughout the West Cork League, to get behind this, in aid of Riverside Athletic, thank you.” 

Please use this idonate link to contribute to the fundraiser. 

CONFIRMATION 

The West Cork League is awaiting FAI confirmation as to when they can resume on-field activities. A decision on whether to continue the current WCL season (where only one round of fixtures was completed) or to start afresh with a new campaign will not be decided upon until the rural league is cleared for a safe return to action.

“The simple answer is that the West Cork League will be allowed finish our current season if we choose to do so,” WCL Chairperson John Buckley commented.

“We will be given a finishing date by the FAI and will have to complete our season before that date. It will be a case of looking at things once we have been provided with that cut-off date. 

Will there be enough time to complete a whole season or will we have to run a reduced number of games? All those points will be discussed as soon as we have a finishing date from the FAI.

“It has been over a year without any competitive games bar the first round of fixtures that we managed to complete pre-Covid. That’s a very long time for players to be idle. Everyone misses meeting up with their teammates, playing matches, discussing the games with their friends and reading about the league in the newspapers.”

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