PLAYING and being involved with soccer has proved to be a rollercoaster journey for Mayfield United stalwart Pat Quirke.
Pat actually began his soccer journey with Glasheen and despite not winning any silverware with the club, he enjoyed his time and football when playing with the southside outfit.
A move to west Cork saw Pat strut his football skills with Clonakilty and after getting a job in the city with Ford’s he played in the Shipping League with them for many years.
After the closure of Ford’s Pat and his wife Mary emigrated to Durban in South Africa for two years and it was there that Pat’s son David got involved with a local soccer club.
Returning to Cork was always in the minds of the Quirke family and once back on Leeside David joined City View who played their games at Mayfield on the pitch where Village United presently compete in the Cork AUL.
The opportunity to amalgamate with Mayfield United came to fruition in 1987 as Pat explained.
“We had a couple of meetings with Mayfield United and we decided to play under their banner as we thought it would be in the best interests of the young lads to play in better facilities,” Quirke explained.
That’s where it all began for Pat at Mayfield United and he started coaching at the club from underage right through to junior.
In his 33 years with the club, Pat has worked with many great people and coaches and he was quick to pay tribute to their commitment.
“I have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic people, of which there are too many to mention, but I think that’s the great thing about this club with the amount of genuine people I have met along the way.”
After a few years, the qualities of Pat’s man-management skills were spotted, and he was duly elected vice-chairman under the stewardship of Ernest O’Mahony.
“When Ernest took a step back, I filled the role of chairman and had a 10-year term before taking a two-year sabbatical and then I returned for another four years before eventually calling time on this demanding role.”
Working as chairman in a club of any sport can be demanding and Pat eventually decided that working at executive level was for the younger men at the club.
“I am still involved in fundraising and my job right now is looking after the maintenance of the pitches as I have plenty of time on my hands following my retirement.”
The upkeep of any grounds takes work and Pat is appealing to people to show respect in their local community.
“I want to see people up on our pitches, but I would ask folk with dogs to clean up after them as we have many people that use our facilities and a little bit of respect wouldn’t go amiss.”
Getting people to coach at underage level is a problem for many clubs in this city and county according to Pat.
I know some people will criticise parents who coach, but without them, there is every chance you would struggle to have teams because getting folk involved to coach kids is a major problem.”
The success of Mayfield United is how they have run their club over many years; something Pat is very proud of.
“Having success with the teams is great, but the biggest kick that I get is seeing many of the young people grow into fine men and going into society disciplined and respectful; thank God we have produced many of them.”
Mayfield have a team in every grade from U11 to youths with the junior and senior teams on the adult side of the club. Having no ladies team is disappointing according to Quirke.
“We did have a ladies team, but when that group grew out our conveyor belt had stopped producing players, but I think we need to address this as it would be nice to get this side of the club going again.”
This year Mayfield United will be celebrating their 50th anniversary and sadly, because of the pandemic, celebrations have been put on hold.
“It is disappointing as I think it would have been celebrated in style, but we will have to wait and see what progress is made with this pandemic.”
The manager of the club’s senior team is Craig Robinson and according to Pat, he has shown great professionalism since taking up the role.
“Craig is very tuned in with all the qualifications and now we have a gym upstairs I have little doubt he will be a great addition to us.”
In the words of Pat having a good academy is a great success.
“You can see the number of cars streaming into the club on Saturday mornings and this, for me, is vital going forward for the club and credit to all concerned with this venture.
“On a final note, I would like to thank our many sponsors who have shown incredible generosity to us over many years.”
Pat married Mary in 1973 and they were blessed with six children Sinead, Ricky, David, Brian, Maria, and Barry.
Sadly for Pat and Mary their youngest son Barry is getting married in Boston at the end of the month but due to the pandemic, they are unable to attend.
Having a good wife and family is very important when you are highly involved in sport.
“I am lucky that Mary is a fantastic wife and mother and I suppose at times she is glad to see the back of me, but yes in general, I think the wives of all our volunteers deserve many plaudits.”
Over the years Pat has represented Mayfield in the final of the over 60s singing competition, but his greatest trait is his honesty and determination and his popularity in the club epitomises a man who has given unquestionable loyalty.