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A Vital Component Of The Manchester United Team To Visit Thurles

Rev John Boyers, the official chaplain at Manchester United will visit Thurles, Co Tipperary tomorrow.

The President of St Patricks College, Thurles, Rev Fr. Tom Fogarty, who is also a leading figure in GAA circles, has called for chaplains to become part of the make-up of the inter-county back-room team. The former Offaly and Tipperary hurling boss, believes chaplains can play a key role in dealing with what he headlines as “crisis situations” amongst members of a squad.

Fr. Fogarty believes that Ireland seriously lags behind both England and America in recognising the links between sport and spirituality. He strongly believes inter-county players are often privately troubled by personal matters which are outside the field of play, but find themselves often feeling solitary with having no one to turn too or confide in.

Fr Fogarty cites Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte and the Tyrone panel as an example, pointing out what they both experienced in the last number of years, the reality of losing key players such as Paul McGirr and Cormac McAnallen.

Fr Fogarty now finds himself as the driving force behind an interesting weekend conference being held in St Patrick’s College, Thurles, this weekend entitled “Exploring the link between Sport and Spirituality.”

Tomorrows conference, which will run from tomorrow evening next and all day Saturday, and will feature a presentation amongst others from Rev. John Boyers, chaplain to Manchester United.  Rev. Boyers will address conference participants about his time at Old Trafford including what happens the week before that very vital game if a player is laden down with unnecessary worry or indeed loses a loving parent or a brother or indeed a fiancée.

Fr Tom explains that for many years communities have enjoyed the benefits of having collage chaplains, hospital chaplains etc, who contribute vital roles and he now firmly believes that this is an area Irish sport needs to seriously examine.

“America and England are way ahead of us as it is very common outside Ireland to have a chaplain associated with a team.  All high-profile Premiership teams have a chaplain as part of their current make up and team managers are recognising that a chaplain may have a major winning role to play,” states Fr Tom, pointing out that gambling addiction is now being recognised as being prevalent within GAA and other sporting circles.

Players are required to be not just physically fit, but also need to be mentally prepared for sport and he is now calling on managers to set a precedent by enlisting the services of a team chaplain, thus ensuring what he calls “a player’s very skills base” is focused in perfect synchronization with this sporting skill.

This conference is jointly sponsored by Davy Stockbrokers and St. Patrick’s College, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

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