Jack Cooney with the framed Tailteann Cup photo collage.

Footballers plan fundraisers to top up Tailteann holiday fund

Westmeath’s senior footballers are embarking on a number of fundraising initiatives in the coming months in attempt to add substantially to a €60,000 holiday fund awarded to them for winning the inaugural Tailteann Cup in July.

The fund awarded by Croke Park will go a long way towards financing the proposed team holiday in the Mexican resort of Cancún, but they hope to raise more money to cover the full projected cost of the trip.

Jack Cooney, who managed the team to victory in the high-profile second-tier competition during the summer, spoke to delegates of Westmeath GAA’s county committee about the initiatives at their meeting in the Bloomfield House Hotel last night (Wednesday).

He stressed that he wasn’t coming to clubs looking for money, but was merely informing delegates about what the footballers were planning.

“The lads got a nice few bob off Croke Park to go on a trip, and amazingly, there’s a number of lads who have given 12, 13 or 14 years to Westmeath GAA, and haven’t been on a holiday. I was a little bit taken aback when I heard that,” said Cooney, who stepped down as Westmeath manager last month. “That’s nobody’s fault. They’ve given huge commitment.

“So while the few quid we got off Croke Park is very, very welcome, it’s not enough as you know in today’s terms. So we want to do some fundraising, and give something back for the few quid we’re taking in.”

Cooney said that he wanted to “push hard” to get his former charges a “memorable holiday” to celebrate their achievements in 2022. They will be bringing their wives/partners on the trip, who are, he added, the “unsung heroes” of annual inter-county football campaigns.

With that in mind, Cooney unveiled an exclusive framed photo collage immortalising Westmeath’s Tailteann Cup success, comprising photos taken by Dublin photography firm Inpho. There are 100 copies of the collage available, delegates were told, and for pricing, prospective buyers are encouraged to call Jack on 087 9389385.

Describing the collage on show as a “prototype”, the Coralstown/Kinnegad clubman said that the frames are customisable. “They can be personalised, and you can get them signed by the team,” he said, adding that if businesses wanted to buy one, players could call to their premises with the cup and have a photograph taken, to include in a bespoke collage.

In addition, the footballers are planning a golf classic at Athlone Golf Club on Friday October 14 (tee-off at 8am), with spaces for 35 teams at €600 per team, and with €3,000 in prizes to be won. Participants will also be treated to a two-course dinner in the company of the Westmeath team and the Tailteann Cup, after the day’s golf. There will be goodie bags on arrival, and special guests on the night.

Finally, in mid-to-late October, a ‘Tailteann Trail’ event is planned which is a fun walk/run along the Greenway from Athlone via Mullingar and finishing in Kinnegad. “It’ll be a fun day,” said Cooney. “All the lads will be involved, and we’ll have music at different points. It’ll be a bit of craic and an opportunity to finish out the year.”

Discussing the framed photo collage further, Cooney said to delegates: “I don’t expect everyone here to buy one, but at least you’re aware of it, and you might know someone who would.

“It could be someone in England or America, or somebody for whom this might be a lovely Christmas gift.

“On a personal level, thank you very much for all your support over my four years. This is my 22nd year involved with the Westmeath senior team, either as a player or a coach.

“We’re on an upward curve, and please God we’ll keep driving it on and on over the coming years. These guys [the county board] have been a great support to me over the last few years, and I’d like to officially thank them, because they don’t get enough thanks, and it wouldn’t happen only for them.”

Frank Mescall, Westmeath GAA chairman, said that the Lake County was lucky to have a man of Jack Cooney’s calibre for so many years. “I would urge delegates that if you can support the players in any way, please do,” he added. “They deserve all your support, and represent us so well.”