Brent Valley Golf Club to stage fundraising event for family of popular GAA referee Mattie Maher who died during Gaelic football match
By Damian Dolan
A West London golf club is staging a fundraising event for the family of GAA referee Mattie Maher, who died while refereeing a Gaelic football match.
Mattie collapsed during a game between Lancashire and Hertfordshire at Glen Rovers GAA ground in Watford in April.
He was 60 years of age and lived in Uxbridge, West London, with his wife, Denise, and their two young children.
Mattie, from Rosegreen, Co Tipperary, was a well-known and “larger-than-life character” in London and British GAA circles.
He was also loved his golf and was a long-standing member of Brent Valley Golf Club in Hanwell.
Wanting to “give something back” to Mattie’s family, the club is staging a fundraising golf day on Friday 15 July in “honour of our late friend and loved referee”.
All monies raised from the day will be donated to the family.
“We still talk about Mattie at the club every day, so we decided ‘let’s give something back’,” said one of the event’s organisers, Pa O’Neill.
“Mattie was the most amazing Craic; he had a word for everybody and everybody at the club loved him. He was a great character.”
Originally, Pa says they anticipated having 18 teams enter the event, but they very quickly surpassed that number.
Pa is an ex-captain at the club while the other main driving force behind the day is Kevin Manning, who was brought into Brent Valley Golf Club by Mattie.
“So many people want to play, and the sponsorship is going really well – people can’t give enough. But it’s for the family so we would really like to get more,” said Pa, who comes from Kilkenny.
A number of sponsorship opportunities remain available, and it is still possible to enter a team on the day. There will also be a raffle and prizes for the raffle are still being accepted.
Brent Valley Golf Club has waived all of its fees for the day.
A member of the club for 13 years, Mattie would play a round of golf every Sunday morning.
He would then head to Ruislip or Greenford to referee a Gaelic football or hurling match.
A golfer of some ability – he played off a handicap of eight at one time – his name appears on the club’s honours board as a winner of one of its prestigious six Major tournaments. He won the St Andrew’s event last year.
“It’s a highly sort after competition and Mattie shot a great score to win it,” said Pa.
He added: “One thing we always said about Mattie was he never lost a ball. He’d say ‘I have it here!’ It might not be the same make or the same number, but it was a ball.
“He was very competitive at the golf, but then he’d get home to let Denise go to work, and then he’d take the kids to the park and he’d referee a match.”
Mattie was introduced to Brent Valley Golf Club by Frank Burke.
The pair first met when Frank was umpiring at GAA matches and Mr Maher was refereeing.
“He was a great character and well liked in the club,” said Frank, who has been involved in London GAA since arriving from Galway in 1966.
“He absolutely loved golf. Every Sunday without fail he’d be there – he loved his golf as much as he loved his refereeing.
“He was a great driver of a ball, but it might not always be on to his own fairway!”
He added: “Mattie was a great friend; I played with him every Sunday morning. I loved his company and everybody else did as well.
“I still can’t believe he’s not here. It’s heart-breaking.
“Everything raised on the day is going to the family and that’s great.”