The role of president is the latest step in a lifetime of commitment to Passage West GAA Club for Matt Aherne.
In recent weeks, Matt has succeeded Tommy Lester following the completion of his two-year term in the role. He is steeped in the club – his great-grandfather Ned Cadogan was the first chairperson in 1885 and it was in the Aherne family home, where Matt still lives, that the entity came into being.
For the first 55 years of the club’s existence, the fields used for matches were owned by the Ahernes and it’s hardly surprising that Matt would get involved from a young age.
Even though he was not even seven years old at the time, Matt has vivid memories of the opening of Manning Park in 1952. He particularly remembers the Carrigaline Pipe Band leading the Blackrock and St Finbarr’s senior hurling teams around the field prior to the opening match.
Seven years later, on St Valentine’s Day 1959, Matt wore the Passage colours for the first time when he lined out in a U15 football match against Ardaroistig (Bishopstown). He subsequently played in all grades for the club up until 1990, when he lined out in goal with the junior B hurling team. Whilst playing, he also got involved in various teams, hurling and football, both as a coach and a selector.
In the early 1970s, due to the steady growth in the underage activity in the club, it was felt that a separate committee should be set up to oversee the progress of these young players. Matt Aherne became the first chairperson of this committee, a role he fulfilled for a number of years.
He says he was honoured to be involved with many of the players who subsequently backboned the great Passage football team who won county titles in 1982 (junior football) 1983 (intermediate football) and lost narrowly to a star-studded Barrs team in the senior semi-final in 1984.
He then took an interest in the maintenance of Manning Park, a role he fulfilled for 15 years, after which he was succeeded by Ned Harrington, who carried out this duty for a further 20 years.
In 2006, Matt, ably assisted by Sean Geary and Derry Doody, penned the 120-year history of his beloved club. It was a great pleasure for all concerned when the finished book won the MacNamee Award in Croke Park for the best history book of the year, against 25 other entrants.
For the past 10 years, Matt has acted as a hurling delegate for Passage to Cork County Board and there is no doubt that he will bring the same levels of dedication and diligence to his latest role.
Meanwhile, Sarsfields can book a spot in the final of Division 1 of the RedFM Hurling League with two games to spare if they make it seven wins from seven this weekend.
Sars currently hold a three-point lead over Fr O'Neills and Blackrock and they host the Ballymacoda/Ladysbridge side at Riverstown tomorrow night. Victory would open up a five-point advantage with only four to play for, ensuring that they couldn't finish lower than second. Blackrock are also in action tomorrow, welcoming Charleville to Church Road.
Division 2 leaders Glen Rovers are also on the verge of securing a place in the final, though they face a challenging tie on Saturday at home to reigning county senior champions St Finbarr's, who currently lie in third. Second-placed Ballincollig are away to Bishopstown on Friday night.
Division 2: Fermoy v Mallow (8pm).
Division 3: Kilworth v Carrigaline (8pm).
Division 5: Cloughduv v Ballygiblin (7.30pm).
Division 1: Sarsfields v Fr O’Neills (7pm), Blackrock v Charleville, Erin’s Own v Na Piarsaigh.
Division 2: Bishopstown v Ballincollig (7pm).
Division 3: Castlelyons v Éire Óg, Inniscarra v Blarney.
Division 4: Ballinhassig v Lisgoold.
Division 5: Midleton v Russell Rovers (7pm).
Division 6: Ballygarvan v Meelin (7.30pm).
Division 2: St Finbarr’s v Glen Rovers (6pm), Midleton v Newtownshandrum (6.30pm).
Division 3: Newcestown v Blackrock, Bandon v Ballymartle (4pm).
Division 4: Youghal v Ballyhea (4.30pm), Cloyne v St Catherine’s (7.15pm).
Division 5: Argideen Rangers v Castlemartyr (4pm), Dungourney v Aghada (7pm).
Division 6: Barryroe v Douglas, Sarsfields v Kilbrittain (7pm).
Division 7: Kilshannig v Ballinora, Valley Rovers v Erin’s Own.
Division 1: Kanturk v Carrigtwohill.
Division 4: Milford v Aghabullogue (11am), Kildorrery v Valley Rovers.
Division 6: Tracton v Na Piarsaigh.
Division 7: Ballinascarthy v Nemo Rangers.