‘Patsy is a legend, he loved the game, loved the club’, says Fitzgerald

‘Patsy is a legend, he loved the game, loved the club’, says Fitzgerald

Patsy White is presented with a signed Notts Forrest jersey. L to R: Shane Fitzgerald, Kevin Finn, Niall O’Regan Patsy White, Mervyn Beasley, Barry Culnane and Jeremy Hurley.

IT'S almost a decade since Knockavilla football club despanded but the joy it brought to its players will live for a long time yet.

It was a sad day to see the club fold and having recently caught up with former player Shane Fitzgerald he spoke about the impact the club had on him and one man in particular Patsy White, who was Mr Knockavilla.

“It was a fantastic club to be part of with so many great memories,” said Fitzgerald.

“We were a small club with a big heart. Knockavilla started in the West Cork league back in the 90’s and performed very well and even started to develop an underage set up to support the club. 

"The club left the West Cork league and joined the Aul in late 90’s and here started a journey that saw them go from the Aul Division 3 all the way to premier in the space of eighth years winning county cups Division titles Division cups along the way we even captured the AOH which for a small club like us was a major achievement.

“The club made a decision in the early 2000’s to join with Innishannon so as to all work together to drive football forward in our parish. 

"It worked well for the underage but not so much at men’s level. It was always a constant struggle financially to maintain the club but we had some great people involved that kept the show on the road.

“We never had a huge squad, but there was always quality in the side. 

"However with the lack of players coming through and the constant struggle to maintain the club eventually fizzled out in the 2015 season. 

"It was a really difficult decision but most of our squad were in their late 30’s having played together for last 10/15 years as a unit. 

"It’s a shame that a club with such strong characters and proud history went this way.

“We look back with fond memories and are grateful to those who were responsible for that. 

"One man in particular was the heartbeat of the club, Patsy White.

“Patsy did everything for Knockavilla. He was always in the thick of it he was our number one supporter, our counsellor our friend and coach. 

"I don’t think the man ever fell out with anyone in his life. Patsy could be found putting nets up, cutting pitch and lining them he was always there for the club.

“Our biggest achievement was the AOH Cup which came near the end of our time. It was a fantastic period in which we celebrated for awhile. Teams might have been better on paper but few teams would have the heart and determination we had.

We won the prem A under Niall (O’Regan) going a full season unbeaten which was some achievement. 

"The joy in Patsys face after every win was a joy to behold as I said you couldn’t but not love the man.

“It was really sad to fold but the struggle had became too much and when the main core of 7/8 players had hit the late 30’s we were done. 

"Patsy is a legend, he loved the game, loved the club. His son Keith played for Knockavilla and he was the apple of his eye. Patsy was a true football man a rare breed. What Patsy put in to the club can’t be quantified.

“Without men like Patsy in clubs, grassroots football would struggle. Every club has a Patsy and some clubs are lucky they might have a few. 

"Patsy sacrificed his time his weekends to make sure Knockavilla was a success and that we all played which is rare. All of us that played under Patsy are forever indebted to the man."

FAI head of coach education Niall O’Regan also spoke fondly of White.

“Having worked with Patsy during my time as Manager of Knockavilla it was amazing to see the connection he had to the club. 

"His love and connection to Knockavilla was so motivational during my time there and it 100% played a big part in the teams success getting promoted to the Premier Division in the AUL for the first time. 

"It was great to get together recently and present Patsy with a signed Forest jersey. 

"When I told Andy Reid about Patsy and his love for Forest be immediately arranged the jersey and it was great to be able to present it to Patsy as a thank you from all the players and coaches he worked with over the years.” 

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