The Club celebrated a landmark occasion in the it's modern history on October 21st, 2023, with the official opening and blessing of the Paddy Connolly Stand at a ceremony in Lisnamult. The opening was performed by the late Mr. Connolly’s son, Kevin, on behalf of the Connolly family. Mr. Connolly was a hugely popular figure in Roscommon Gaels who drove players to and from matches all over Roscommon and far beyond for many decades. One former club official described Mr. Connolly as “the quintessential club man who would do anything for Roscommon Gaels but who didn’t want any limelight. Paddy would be too busy arranging to bring players home to get into any photographs after the Gaels won a match”.
To mark the opening, the club held a full day of activities which included exhibition matches featuring teams from all four codes in the club. Along with the opening, the centre-piece of the day was an entertaining football match between Roscommon Gaels Masters and the Roscommon Gaelic Masters county team.
In opening the stand, Mr. Connolly paid tribute to the members of Roscommon Gaels involved in the development of the facilities in Lisnamult over the last 15 years. “The transformation is truly remarkable,” he said. He thanked all those who had worked on the planning and construction of the stand, especially “the incredible work” of Tom Harlow, Fergal O’Gara, and PJ Moran whose “unwavering commitment made this momentous occasion possible”.
Mr. Connolly thanked Roscommon Gaels for choosing his father as “the recipient of this great honour”. “When Peter Mullen first brought me to see the completed stand I had to pinch myself. Seeing Paddy’s name inscribed here was an emotional moment, that memory will remain with me for years,” he noted. “It fills me with immense satisfaction to follow the progress of the club’s teams on Instagram and witness the vibrant health of our club on every level. This is only made possible by the dedicated efforts of our club members, I’m proud to be one.
“Let us not forget our ultimate goal: to bring home the Fahey Cup, we have waited too long. These remarkable facilities mean we can pursue that goal with renewed vigour and passion. Let me once again express my gratitude for allowing me to be part of this great occasion". “I’m sure this new Paddy Connolly Stand will inspire us to continue to strive for excellence both on and off the pitch. I look forward to seeing these grounds filled with enthusiastic new supporters all cheering for the bright and successful future that is in store for Roscommon Gaels,” Mr Connolly said.
Pictured Above: Mr. Kevin Connolly along with his family officially cut the red tape and open the Paddy Connolly Stand
The blessing was performed by Fr. Kevin Fallon, PP Roscommon. Roscommon Gaels secretary John Donnellan made a presentation to the Connolly family in recognition of their generosity. Roscommon Gaels Chairman Philip Mullen welcomed all those present to “this momentous occasion” for the club. “We have a state of the art spectator stand to show off, and doesn’t it look fantastic,” said Mr Mullen who thanked the Connolly family for their generosity.
Mr Mullen expressed his sympathy on the afternoon, to the Hession family on the death of former club chairperson Stephen Hession who had died the previous day. He also paid tribute to the late Máire Allen, the former Roscommon Gaels children’s officer, who also died recently.
Mr Mullen thanked the Lisnamult community for their understanding during the development of the facilities. He acknowledged the work of project manager, Tom Harlow and Fergal O’Gara, who was the liaison between the club and Kevin Connolly; the builders and contractors, and engineer PJ Moran. He also praised the club volunteers who prepared the ground and brought food to mark the special occasion. County Board Chairman Brian Carroll congratulated Roscommon Gaels on their opening of the new stand and extended his best wishes to the club for the future. Roscommon Gaels Academy players applauded the Masters players onto the pitch for their match which was refereed by Tommy Gately. Cian Mulry from the All Stars presented the ball to the referee and Amhrán na bhFiann was sung by club member and Scór participant Jane King. Musical entertainment was provided throughout a memorable day by Declan Walsh. The Master of Ceremonies was Noel Fallon.
Before the Masters match, a minute’s silence was held in memory of Stephen Hession, former chairperson of Roscommon Gaels, who died the previous day.