UNDER normal circumstances Bishopstown GAA club would be en fete tomorrow to celebrate Larry McCarthy’s rise to association president.
But, there will be no public fanfare because of the same restrictions which limits the annual Congress to a remotely held event.
Still, Bishopstown are rightly proud that a former player has been elevated to the highest role in the GAA and the first overseas occupant, to boot.
“Given the restrictions at the moment there isn’t a hope of doing anything, but we will be having a welcoming and congratulatory night for Larry at some point,” said club stalwart Jim Ryng.
“Club life has been badly affected in the past 12 months because you’re not meeting people.”
It’s little surprise that Larry immersed himself in the GAA because his father of the same name worshipped Kerry and his mother was camogie secretary for years at county board and Munster council levels.
“He played for Bishopstown at under-age level and Larry was a good club player. He always maintained his links with the club and used to visit, when he was back in Ireland on GAA matters.
“Any match going, left, right or centre, he’d be there and Larry would socialise in the club at weekends.
“Indeed he rang me one night recently just to find out how the club was doing and all that,” Ryng added.
McCarthy (66) attended St Catherine’s NS and Colaiste Iognaid Rís (later Deerpark CBS) and trained to be a PE teacher at Thomond College in Limerick, now UL.
Soccer was his first passion, following the fortunes of Cork Hibernians and Cork Celtic in the League of Ireland and playing locally.
It was only when his family upped sticks and moved from the Lough to Bishopstown, where their new home was close to the pitch, that McCarthy started to play.
He used to sell programmes at county championship matches in the old Athletic Grounds, now Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
McCarthy played for the Town at U16 and minor before the move to Thomond College had a profound impact on his life.
As an 18- and 19-year-old, McCarthy helped run the GAA club in college, organising teams, gear, transport, competitions and everything associated with keeping a club afloat. He was also Thomond College’s delegate to the Limerick County Board after they were granted permission to compete in the senior football championship.
That team was coached by the highly influential Dave Weldrick and the team included Kerry great Pat Spillane, Dublin’s Brian Mullins and Galway’s John Tobin, to mention just three.
Amazingly, Thomond College played Austin Stacks four times en route to winning the Munster club title and later the All-Ireland crown in ’78.
After a seven-year stint teaching in Malahide and playing with Raheny, he emigrated to New York in 1985 to do a Masters degree.
McCarthy had spent his summers in the US, joining the Sligo club, who had strong links to the construction industry, including the carpentry section, which he would make good use of later.
He studied by night at New York University and worked by day as a carpenter even though with limited experience in the trade.
McCarthy also spent two years at Ohio State University and seven more in Georgia before taking up his current role as a lecturer in Sports Management in Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
He has served New York GAA a long time, as secretary for six years and chairman for three.
McCarthy succeeds John Horan and will be the 40th president after winning a dramatic vote on the fourth count, receiving 142 votes, 10 more than Jarlath Burns.
McCarthy trailed Burns by 17 votes after the first count but made big gains as the votes of eliminated candidates Jerry O'Sullivan and Mick Rock were distributed.
The pair were locked on 110 votes after the third count but the distribution of Jim Bolger’s votes got McCarthy past the quota of 139.