Martin Kiely Column - Our thanks to JP McManus

Martin Kiely's column can be read first thing every Thursday morning in the Limerick Leader
In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely pays tribute to the role that JP McManus plays in Limerick GAA.

In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely pays tribute to the role that JP McManus plays in Limerick GAA.

In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely pays tribute to JP McManus.

His smile said it all. He stood proud on the steps of the Mackey Stand looking down on a sea of green and white - he had finally witnessed Limerick winning a major hurling trophy and it was clear to all that both he and his wife were amongst the happiest supporters in attendance at the Gaelic Grounds.

He has supported Limerick GAA in a way no other could do and this Munster hurling final win was, in a way, a small reward for all of the support he has tendered during many hard days over a long number of years. JP McManus is no ordinary sportsman, he has stood in the biggest sporting arenas around the world, is personal friends with the biggest names in a variety of sports and yet looking at him I got the sense that watching Limerick win this year’s Munster hurling championship would rank alongside some of his greatest personal triumphs and indeed other great sporting occasions that he has witnessed.

McManus has never been slow to support Limerick GAA and had he not contributed millions some years ago towards the Gaelic Grounds the county would be swamped in debt and that would have halted progress in so many ways.

His sponsorship of Limerick teams under the “Sporting Limerick” brand has provided a firm foundation for the Limerick County Board while other counties are struggling to retain and encourage sponsors to come on board. JP McManus’ love of gaelic games is central to his support of Limerick GAA and that love of our national games was cultivated long before he became one of the major business people of the world. He has remained loyal to his club South Liberties and was, at one stage, the youngest Chairman of that famous club.

Other sponsors would have long walked away from Limerick but unlike others McManus never saw his support of Limerick GAA as a business and it’s fitting and long overdue that his outstanding support has been rewarded with a Munster hurling title and let’s hope there is more to come.

Most supporters only see the “Sporting Limerick “ name on the jersey but behind the scenes J P McManus and his team have helped in a variety of ways and for that all supporters of Limerick GAA should be entirely grateful. McManus is known in the sporting and business circles the world over but his love of his native city and county is never far from his soul.

From his vantage point in the stand JP McManus would have seen the 20,000 supporters on the field. He would have admired how they openly celebrated such a great win and how many were just unable to contain their emotions.

The afterglow of the win is still hanging in the air around Limerick and while it is only right that the team, management and support people take credit for the win deep down many will be very aware that JP McManus has played a key role in the development of Limerick GAA. He has done so in a very quiet way, he slips into games at county and club level and very few are aware of his presence.

McManus has a few trusted lieutenants like Declan Moylan and Walter Shanahan who do much of the liaison with the County Board and both of these men are steeped in the G.A.A and would be very much respected in Limerick hurling.

At the recent opening of the new grounds at Staker Wallace J P kitted out teams and officials from both counties, it was a very nice gesture but one member of the Limerick County Board rejected the offer, it was not well received and it showed a real lack of respect.

JP McManus respects loyalty, from a sporting and business sense he has offered unwavering support to Limerick and for that he has won the respect and loyalty of so many in Limerick city and county.

He smiled as Donal O’Grady lifted the Cup – for him long overdue value for his huge investment but most of all pride in seeing Limerick back dining with the hurling elite. Thank you JP. You have played a most valuable part in supporting Limerick GAA but also the many charitable causes you support in this region.

Most people won’t get a chance to say thank you but I can tell you that deep down the people of Limerick greatly admire all of the outstanding work that you have done. Limerick winning the Munster Final will inspire the next generation of hurlers and with the support of JP McManus great deeds are possible in the future.