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A life in football


LEGACY Pat Quigley with The Quigley Cup which he presented to the Mayo League in 1973 for underage competition. Pic: John Corless

John Corless

I have known Pat Quigley for over 40 years. He is a man of deep integrity. I first met Pat when we were both involved in Mayo football – I was a player and club delegate to the Mayo League; Pat was an official. I later worked with him in the Mayo League and Connacht FA. These days we meet on the sideline at Mayo League and League of Ireland matches.
I always found Pat to be decent to a fault, and completely genuine. If Pat can help you, he will. If he doesn’t know the answer to a question you ask, he’ll say so. He isn’t a spoofer.
When I sat down with Pat last week to talk about his life in football, Pat was as he always is – completely honest. Pat is the real deal, and it is easy to see how he climbed through the ranks of football administration, from a ‘helper’ with the now-defunct Road Rangers FC (a Mayo League junior club based around McHale Road, Castlebar) to President of the Football Association of Ireland, and to membership of UEFA and FIFA exclusive committees.
Pat Quigley was born in 1945 in Slough in Berkshire, 30 kilometres west of London, the only child of Irish parents.
“When I was seven, my family bought a cottage in Ballyheane,” Pat said, “and I attended the local national school. I remember my dad going to England for work, so there was only my mother and myself. When I finished there, I attended the VEC College in Castlebar, which is now Davitt College.”
When he left school Pat’s first job was in a grocery shop/pub in the premises that is now Don Racine in Castle Street in Castlebar. He then moved to Claremorris to a small supermarket in Mount Street, which was owned by Willie Creighton, a brother of Andy, the manager of then famous, Royal Blues Showband. After that, Pat joined Thompsons of Cork – a confectionery supplier.
“They would deliver the goods to me, I would sell and deliver for the week, and they would refill the following week. I did that for two years and then I went to Glaxo Smith Kline - the healthcare company, as a rep, calling to GPs, consultants and retail pharmacies. I worked there over 30 years.”

Through the ranks
Pat first became involved in the game, when he was asked to help out in the administration side of Road Rangers. He progressed from that to Castlebar Celtic youths and became a member of the Mayo League Management Committee. Pat progressed to Mayo FA delegate to Connacht Football Association, and later a Connacht delegate to the FAI. In between he served as Chairperson of both the Mayo FA and Connacht FA. Pat became the first person from Connacht to take the presidency of the FAI in 1996 – a post he held for four years. He was Vice-President from 1994 to 1996 and served as Acting President for 18 months before he took full control.
So how did he have time to represent a pharmaceutical giant and presiding over Irish football at the same time?
“When I became President of the FAI in 1996, my customers all supported me very well,” Pat explained. “They knew that because of FAI business, I wouldn’t be able to call to them as often as previously, so they rang in the orders. In fact, my sales went up while I was President of the FAI.”
Pat was a UEFA delegate and often had total charge of an international or European Club fixture.  
“The delegate is the head person regarding the match,” Pat said. “Everything goes through the delegate. Policing, security, ticket sales, everything down to the last detail like whether there is toilet rolls in the toilet cubicles or not. Everything.”

Eircom Park
Pat says the biggest issue of his presidency of the FAI was the plan to build a 50,000 seater stadium on the N7, in Dublin.
“We tried to build Eircom Park in conjunction with Bernard O’Byrne. It would be an FAI stadium and the plans included a roof that could close. It would have been our own stadium. There were a few people that didn’t want that to happen and in the end, with rising costs and one thing and another, it didn’t go ahead. It was my biggest disappointment as President, not getting that across the line. We put a lot of work into the into the project. I used to drive to Dublin a minimum of four times a week after my day’s work. Coming home at two o’clock and a half two in the morning, and setting off the next morning at seven or eight to wherever it was I was going for the company.”
To illustrate the extent of Pat’s travels while serving the FAI, he tells the story of a recent visit from his granddaughter.
“My granddaughter was here last week and she says Granddad, can you name all the colours of the flags of Europe? I said, ‘I’ll tell you what we’ll do, we’ll see how many countries Grandad travelled to for football’. It turned out I was in 41 countries in Europe for football. I would have never been in all those countries, were it not for football. And then there’s places we went to outside Europe, like America, South Africa and Argentina.”

For full interview see print edition of this week’s Mayo News.

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