Anton O’Toole loved this time of year – Cheltenham. But it wasn’t just the big days. Racing was one of the joys of his life.
He enjoyed the spectacle. And the company. He got a kick out of giving his friends a tip that earned them a few bob.
He was a beautiful footballer himself. For Synge Street and the Dubs. One of Kevin Heffernan’s favourite poets.
And he’d feel chuffed there’s now a race named after him – The Anton O’Toole Memorial Mares Novice Hurdle.
It took place this month at Leopardstown. And there’s also now a memorial bench at the venue. Many of his Dublin colleagues and friends arrived to mark the occasion.
They included Fran Ryder, Jim Brogan, Jim Gavin, Tony Hanahoe, Sean Doherty, Stephen Rooney, Alan Larkin, Bernard Brogan Snr and Paddy Cullen. They did the great man proud.
Davy Burke has lit up the season. His honest, post-match interviews have the radio crackling. He tells it straight. He talks from the heart. And thinks with the head.
He is a young manager that has impressed with Roscommon. When they won their first three matches in Division 1 of the Allianz Football League, he found himself standing in front of more microphones than ever before. But he looked like a fella that wanted to hand-pass the hype away.
He has served a valuable apprenticeship along the management road. He was a selector on Gregory McGonigle’s Dublin ladies’ football management ticket. Greg did an excellent job with the Dubs. All in Dublin Ladies’ Football are keeping a close eye on Davy’s progress. And good progress it is.
On the first Saturday of each month, St Vincent’s host a gathering for former players, mentors, officials, supporters and anyone who was, and indeed is, involved with the club.
They arrive to share a pot of tea. And stories from yesterday. Re-living the best days of their lives. Old matches. Forever friends.
It’s a gathering that sparks fun and banter. Everyone looks forward to arriving at Páirc Naomh Uinsionn. It has quickly become the favourite date in the diary for so many Marino maestros. And the invite is there for all.
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