Last Saturday night the Sin Bin Event Centre hosted a celebration dinner to honour Pat Fitzgerald following his inauguration as the new President of the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Pat Fitzgerald, a proud Longford clubman, received the highest office in Irish rugby at the annual Council meeting of the IRFU following a long and distinguished contribution to the game at club, branch and Union level.
Among those in attendance on Saturday was Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, former Irish international and British & Irish Lions loosehead prop Phil Orr and up-and-coming Ireland cap Robbie Henshaw as well as a host of officials, club-mates and friends of the new President.
Speaking at the celebration, Anne Hearty, CEO of Longford RFC’s main sponsors CPL, said that this was a remarkable achievement for Pat and the club.
“It is a real privilege to be here to celebrating with the 126th President of the IRFU, Pat Fitzgerald. CPL is proud to sponsor Longford Rugby Club,” she said.
“At CPL we are known for spotting talent and innovation. This is something we have in common with Longford RFC. It is a very innovative club.
“It was the first rugby club to have an all-weather pitch and the first club to play under floodlights and now the first Junior club in Leinster to produce an IRFU President.”
Ms Hearty said that another commonality between her firm and the club was the way that they both nurture talent, adding: “The junior programme that Longford RFC operates and the hundreds of young children that are facilitated through this programme is one of the great strength of the club.
“Like CPL when this club sees good talent they never let it go and Pat Fitzgerald is a great example of that.
“This is a proud moment for Longford as a club. Irish rugby has given us some fantastic sporting moments and it is great to see the IRFU going from strength to strength. I am sure that Pat will continue that in his tenure as President.”
Although born in Kildare Pat is associated with Longford RFC since joining the club in 1972. Following a distinguished playing career as a scrum half/centre, he contributed to the club’s affairs on various committees.
In his address the President of Longford RFC, Tony Headon, paid tribute to the new IRFU President for his commitment to the club.
“Pat Fitzgerald has been an integral part of the club for 40 years. In that time he has made a great contribution to Longford rugby. He served as President of the club from 1983 to 1985 and has also contributed in his role as a trustee since,” he explained.
“In the last four decades Pat has been involved in many of the initiatives that the club has moved forward with.
“His election is a tribute to the volunteers up and down the island, volunteers who put In a massive amount of work. They can see that no matter what level they played at they can contribute at the highest level.”
At national level Pat’s administrative path included his nomination as Chairman of the Midlands Area of Leinster rugby in the late 1970s and subsequently, as the longest-serving Leinster Branch member, he had the distinction of serving on every committee – most notably in the area of commercial and marketing.
Pat takes over the helm from outgoing president Billy Glynn. In his address to Saturday night’s gathering he thanked the guests for their turnout, sating: “I am really overwhelmed by the support I have received here this evening. Being an elected representative is a shared honour for me, my family and for my club, the midlands area and the Leinster Branch.”
The IRFU President also paid tribute to his comrades from the club, adding: “In rugby we are blessed that the game provides us with a lifetime of experience from which we make friends that last forever.
“Longford is a wonderful example of this quality. I treasure the countless friendships that I have made here. I am humbled and honoured to be able to thank the club for all they have done for me in earning this distinction.”
The celebrations for the new President of Irish rugby’s governing body continued well into the morning.
Pat has formed a part of the IRFU Council since joining the marketing committee in 1997. He became a full member of the Union’s Council in 2000 and has served on every committee in his time at Lansdowne Road.
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