Newry Times GAA Special: MLA Sean Rodgers on his love of GAA

Newry Times News Posted by
info@newrytimes.com
Friday, March 22nd, 2013
Politics, Sport

This week in our feature we speak with SDLP MLA Sean Rodgers and discuss his interest in the GAA .

Sean Rodgers is a former school principal from Kilkeel. He replaced Margaret Ritchie at the Assembly when she decided to concentrate on her role as an MP.

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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