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Tony wins Club Stars hurling award

Sport

THE EYES HAVE IT Tony Stakelum of Castlebar Mitchels Hurling Club is the Club Stars ‘Outstanding Contribution to Hurling’ award winner. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Awards
Ger Flanagan

A TIPPERARY native whose family links to hurling date back to the very origins of the sport has been chosen as the winner of this year’s Club Stars ‘Outstanding Contribution to Hurling’ award.
Tony Stakelum, who moved to Castlebar 25 years ago, and has been one of the main driving forces behind Castlebar Mitchels Hurling club, will be presented with his award— which is sponsored by Jim Hogan Couriers — at the 15th annual Club Stars banquet in Knockranny House Hotel, Westport on Saturday, January 11.
The awards are being run in conjunction with AIB, O’Neills Sports and The Mayo News. Proceeds from this season’s event will be donated to the Mayo Roscommon Hospice.
Tony, who also hurled with Mayo, is a native of Holycross/Ballycahill, but moved to Castlebar in the mid-1990s after marrying Deirdre, who hailed from the town.
He hung up his boots around that time at the age of 36, but was persuaded to come out of retirement again to represent Mitchels until 2004. At one stage during his playing career with the club, he was a player, senior manager and the club chairman!
Tony even managed to find time to don the Green and Red of Mayo for a number of years as well.
“I started at full-forward but moved back to goalkeeper eventually,” the current Castlebar Mitchels Hurling club chairman laughed last week. “It was a surprise, moving from Tipperary hurling to Mayo hurling, many times I remember making runs out to the sideline and the ball would end up over my head!”
Tony’s playing career only scratches the surface of what he has contributed to the game.
He’s the long-time Mitchels chairman, and right now is also their PRO, County Board delegate and an underage coach. When he first got involved, Mitchels hurling was in its real infancy, with a shallow pool of underage players.
Tony was the inspiration behind setting up ‘Hurling in the Green’ in 2001, a camp for children that runs through the summer in the Mall in Castlebar and has grown massively in the last two decades.
These days the Mitchels Hurling Club have teams from under-8s up and the fact they played in the County Senior Hurling Final this year shows the feeder system is really coming to fruition. A Castlebar camogie club has also been set up, with an adult team in the pipeline.
When you hear Tony Stakelum’s family tree and their hurling tradition, it’s easy see where he gets his passion and drive from.
As well as his great-grandfather, Mike Ryan, who played in one of the first recorded games ever (the sliothar from that match still sits proudly in Croke Park), Tony’s grandfather, Robbie, hurled in the 1892 All-Ireland Final with Tipperary.
His father, Bob, was a member of Tipp’s All-Ireland winning team in 1949  and later refereed the All-Ireland Hurling final of 1955.
Tipperary hurling legend Pat Stakelum is also on that illustrious family tree, as well as Tony’s cousins, former Tipperary hurlers Richard and Conor Stakelum, and the 1989 All-Ireland winning captain, Bobby Ryan.
Needless to say, hurling runs through Tony Stakelum’s veins – as does modesty.
“I have to say I’m hugely honoured to receive this Club Stars award, but slightly embarrassed also,” he admitted. “I like to work away in the background and get on with things, so I wouldn’t be a man for too many awards!
“But I have to say everyone in my family and my club were thrilled. It’s a lovely honour to receive, even more so for our club, Castlebar Mitchels, not Tony Stakelum.
“I know many men who equally deserve it in Castlebar Mitchels, some even more so than me, so it’s a fabulous award to receive personally.”

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