Colm Harte wins ‘Pat Trainor’ Award

Colm Harte – Principal of St. Teresas N.S. in Killoe – has won the GAAs “Pat Trainor” Award for 2013.

This lifetime achievement award is a National award presented by GAA President Liam O Neill, in recognition of the contribution made to the development of the underage game at schools level. Colm who is Principal of St. Teresas National School Killoe was presented with the award at Croke Park. He is the first Longford person to receive the award.

Colm Harte’s involvement with school’s football in Longford pre-dates the formation of Cumann na mBunscol. His contribution has it’s origins in the rural school of Fermoyle. At this time schools fixtures were co-ordinated by Bord na n-Óg on behalf of the county board. Football was played in regional format, and this tended to be dominated by the larger town teams. Colm undertook the responsibility of the school football team, where his enthusiastic coaching and positive approach to the game instilled a great interest among the pupils. This resulted in a great increase in participation levels, and the emergence of a clear passion for the game which is still evident in that school to this day. The competitive format within Longford then changed to an Urban and a Rural based championship, and shortly after this was introduced Colm guided the school to their first official title in Longford schools football. It was at this time that Colm also pioneered the involvement of girls in schools football, indeed he sought special dispensation for a girl to play on the school team. Permission was granted for this, thus opening the way for other girls in other schools to follow suit which is still the case today in the county.

Colm was also involved in the formation of the first Cumann na mBunscol committee in the county in 1985. Indeed, Colm served as assistant treasurer on that first executive and has been ever-present on our county committee ever since!!! His extensive knowledge of the game and his calm presence has been a great asset to committees past and present, and his primary concern at all times has been to assist in encouraging maximum participation and enjoyment in all schools around the county.

In 1991, Colm moved to Killoe as principal. It is here that his legacy is most evident. His arrival sparked a revival in the fortunes of the school as huge amounts of children have been exposed to opportunities to learn, improve and most importantly participate in Gaelic games of all kinds. While Gaelic football may be to the fore, hurling, rounders and athletics were all promoted and coached to every child who passed through the school over the last few decades. Colm has always believed that skill development and playing for enjoyment lie at the heart of the GAA, and that success in competitions will only come as a consequence of these fundamental principles. Every child was given an opportunity to participate regardless of their ability level, constant praise, encouragement and gentle guidance being used all the time to aid improvement from a very young age. As a result of this positive atmosphere, and with assistance from the local community, Killoe has developed into one of the most successful schools in the county, with multiple successes such as school leagues and championships for both the boys and girls teams as well as annual participation in the hurling and athletics competitions within the county.

However, the real contribution that Colm has made cannot be measured in trophies or titles. The real success has to be the love of sport and the sense of dedication and fair play which is modelled by Colm on the sideline and the training fields of Longford. Equal grace and composure is shown in both victory and defeat, and respect is shown to both children and opponents alike at all times. In 2012, Killoe senior men’s team won their first county title since 1995, and almost all of the young men involved had gone through the ‘academy’ of St. Therese’s N.S. Killoe during Colm’s tenure as principal. The style of football that they played, and the class with which they conducted themselves on the football field, was a product of their time under Colm’s tutelage. This team serves as a fitting example of the legacy which Colm Harte has left on Longford GAA, and one that all of us are truly grateful for.