Newry Times GAA Special: MLA Sean Rodgers on his love of GAA
This week in our feature we speak with SDLP MLA Sean Rodgers and discuss his interest in the GAA .
Sean served on the Newry and Mourne council prior to taking up his role in Stormont. Sean sees himself as a bridge builder and someone who works for the rural community.
Sean speaks about his love of, and life in, Gaelic football.
Seán: Earliest GAA memories?
Rodgers: Playing at Dunaman School – in our final year of Primary School my school – Grange was closed for a rebuild and we moved to Dunaman.
Seán: What is the story of your own GAA Career?
Rodgers: When I moved jobs from St Paul’s Bessbrook to St Louis Kilkeel in the late 80’s as Head of Maths, I reintroduced Gaelic Football to the school. I coached and mentored the boys for years.
I was always on the sideline and in the dressing room -even as School Principal – the boys appreciated it and I think the coaches did also. I was also club registrar for a number of years until life got so busy with politics.
Seán: Best day on GAA field?
Rodgers: Many great days with St Louis, probably the highlight was winning the McLarnon Cup and reaching two MacRory finals.
Seán: Club you are affiliated to?
Rodgers: An Riocht, Kilkeel.
Seán: What is your best Down memory?
Rodgers: In Down we have many memories – probably the 1991 final, being at the top of the old Cusack Stand when Down beat Meath.
Seán: GAA players who have left a lasting impression?
Rodgers: Yesterday’s players – Mickey Linden , Today’s player – Mark Poland ( I’m happy to be biased!) Others include Joseph Donnan, Barney McAleenan, St Louis coaches (football + camogie).
Seán: Can anything be done to further promote the GAA in the Newry/south Armagh district?
Rodgers: Our clubs/ schools are doing great work at promoting our games, right across the South Down/South Armagh area – they just need the continuing support of us all.
Seán: If you could change anything about the GAA what would it be?
Rodgers: More consistent refereeing and developing a culture where referees have the level of respect you find in rugby. I would also like to see more ex-players getting more involved in the administration of our clubs.
Seán: Who is your favourite GAA pundit (TV, Radio or press)?
Rodgers: Joe Brolly.
Seán: Does politics and sport mix?
Rodgers: I think Politics could learn a lot from sport – In the GAA family we compete aggressively during the game, let it be An Riocht v Longstone or Down v Armagh.
When the final whistle sounds we shake hands and get on with life. Today we have people from both traditions playing Gaelic games, a PSNI Gaelic team, Croke Park being opened up to other sports – some of our politicians could learn from the GAA.
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