Is it Hereditary?
Matt and John Presidents in their times.
It has been rightly stressed that last season’s marvellous AIL success was due not only to the present squad, coaches, management and administration but also to those preceding them for several years then maybe this line goes back even further in the case of presidents, for last season’s president, John Gilsenan is son of one of our most illustrious members and a previous president in 1975-77, Matt Gilsenan; and John is the first member to be a son of a former president. Matt joined St Marys in 1948, straight from St Mary’s College and immediately made his mark by captaining a J3 team to win that season’s Moran Cup. He went on to captain the senior team (1953-55) and lead the club on it maiden club tour to Italy in 1955, sadly injury ended his playing career, however he became a top quality referee for many years and he was to become even more valuable to the club by being a trustee,from the age of 25 until recently and serving on serial committees over many years and being involved in all the major changes and developments in the club’s history including playing a pivotal role, alongside his great friends Paddy Bolger, Brian Whelan, Vinno Mc Govern and Bill Fagan, in the major move from College Drive to Templeville Road. He has always been a major influence in infusing the club with its ethos and developing the club culture. He is an honorary life member and is greatly revered and admired. His wife Breda has been a wonderful support to him and to her son, which is no surprise to anyone who knows that admirable lady; she too is of course from a strong rugby tradition.
It was a pleasure all season to see Matt’s close relationship with all involved and particularly his and all the family’s support for John, it was clear that he and Breda enjoyed totally the season and all the associated rugby and social functions.
John also, has had a long and distinguished career at St Marys and he too is a past pupil of St Mary’s College, leaving in 1980 and after a spell at his University (UCD), he came home to St Marys and played for the club at junior level. In the early 1990s, he was involved in team management and was the club honorary treasurer from 1995 to 1999. He and his father have another thing in common, Matt was a director of Murray-Hertz and John is also involved in cars, being a director of Porsche Ireland; shows they both have great drive. John had strong support from his family, with his wife Micheline and son Conor closely and generously involved in the season’s calendar. No president has worked harder, as he attended his duties assiduously and he worked unremittingly throughout the year showing initiative and imagination. He was vitally supported and helped by his officers and committee and especially so by his vice president Michael Fanagan (one of another outstanding St Marys’ family and nephew of former captain and president, Joe Fanagan) his junior vice president the ubiquitous Steven Hennessy and his predecessor Ronnie Mc Brien. No doubt, John and his family shall remain intimately involved in the future affairs and direction of the club.
Interestingly, this year our club captain, the most admired Richard Sweeney, is son of a previous great club captain and President James (JB) Sweeney and is the first son of a former captain, to captain the club.
Maybe it is genetic, in the DNA, maybe our club has a strain of loyalty, ability and dedication, which is in its genome, transferable through generations. Let us hope.