Tuam RFC

Founded 1970

Co. Galway

Club Profiles Owen Lydon


(This piece was done on 8th February, 2021)

This week our club profile focuses on a man who has given thirty seven years loyal service to Tuam RFC, OWEN LYDON, better known to most of us as 'Dygo'.


"I actually got that nickname when I was nine or ten while I was in primary school and it has stuck since. It was nothing at all to do with rugby," explains Owen. 


From being the man at the top as club president to the man in the middle as referee, Dygo has been a fantastic servant not just to Tuam RFC but to the sport of rugby itself. His incredible playing career has seen him don the Tuam jersey for almost four decades while recently he has been the driving force behind the progress of ladies rugby within the club. This after having literally to be forced into playing the sport for the first time back in 1984.


"Eamon Newell put huge pressure on myself and Dermot Fahy to go up to underage training with him because his uncle was heavily involved with the club at the time. We eventually decided to go up. Eamon only lasted two weeks and here I am still involved!" laughs Dygo. 


After experiencing his first taste of the game, it wouldn't be long before Dygo would feature with the Tuam first team. However before he eventually wore the colours of Tuam RFC

he lined out for their opponents!


"It was a Sunday afternoon and after playing a minor football match with Tuam Stars I jumped the wall and got ready for Tuam Rugby against Ballyhaunis. It turned out they were a couple of players short so I ended up playing for Ballyhaunis. I scored two tries that day! It was one way of making an impression!


"My brother used to play as scrum half before he decided to pack it in. Bànìn O Halloran was over the firsts at the time and he had heard young Lydon played scrum half so he summoned me to start. The only training I got for that position was whatever I learned in the warm up. Little did I know then that I'd play in the number nine jersey for the next twenty years!


"I really enjoyed my time with the first team. We had a great bunch with men like Rob Lee, Pete Finnerty and Jimmy Maughan. If anything we under achieved. There's a lot of regret there that we didn't fulfil the potential we had at our disposal. We took the games serious but sometimes our preparation would let us down. We would struggle to get numbers at training," adds Dygo.


For two seasons- 1997/98 and 2003/2004- Dygo was given the captain's armband, something which fills him with pride but also began to plant thoughts of retirement in his head.


"It was a great honour of course to be chosen as captain. The second occasion I was nearly at a stage when I was thinking about retiring. I remember saying it to Pete Finnerty and he said to me 'you'll be too long retired. Why would you stop now when your body is still allowing you to play.'


"That was nearly twenty years ago and I'm still playing. I have to admit this season was the first time I felt I wasn't up to it anymore. I got hit hard in a training session and I just thought to myself what am I at running after lads who are much younger and fitter than me," admits Dygo. 


His incredible playing career continues to this day and as he looks back there are two particular moments that stick out from his playing days.


"I remember we were playing against Corinthians on the top pitch in Tuam on what was a dirty murky day. The game was almost over when we got a penalty in the corner. It looked an impossible scoring position but with us two points behind, if we converted it we won!


"All you could hear was people roaring ye won't score from there. We didn't even know who would take the penalty kick because it really did look an impossible angle to score from but up stepped our prop Seàn Higgins with his big agricultural boot! And sure enough it went straight over the black spot! It was a real you had to see it to believe it moment!


"My second standout memory from my playing days and probably my proudest as a player was when our seconds defeated Bucaneers in a league final at the Sportsgrounds. It was very special because I was playing with lads who I had played with for years and who were now my great friends. That team went on to win alot of trophies between league and Ard na Creggs," says Dygo.


As time progressed Dygo undertook a role he had never originally set out to do but one which he admits gives him a real sense of fulfilment.


"I'd be giving out about referees every now and then but I felt unless you were one yourself you couldn't really complain much. I kind of feel justified now when I criticise! I never got into it too seriously though simply because I wouldn't go to meetings. So I concentrated on lower level rugby rather than adult rugby but I still referee four or five games a season," adds Dygo.


In September 2012 the sudden and untimely passing of a great friend and teammate prompted Dygo into ensuring his friend's memory would live on. 


"Like everyone within the club I was devastated when Paddy Halion died suddenly. Personally he wasn't just a rugby buddy but a family friend. He would have been at our children's birthdays and confirmations. I came up with the idea of having an over forties Galway against Mayo annual game with the winner receiving the Paddy Halion Cup. My wife Colette and I bought the cup. It was important we did that for Paddy. 


"I approached Dermot Fahy and Sean Higgins with the idea and everyone got behind it. I rang Eddie Walsh in Westport and he got the Mayo team together. Many of the Mayo lads would have played against Paddy and would have had great respect for him. While the Tuam lads didn't need to be asked twice.


"Once we pick a date that suited the Mayo lads, I go down to Paddy's mother Nora and invite all the Halion family to it. Nora has often presented the winning team with the cup. It has been a huge success and shows you how highly Paddy was regarded," adds Dygo.


Unfortunately Covid 19 has meant that game had to be postponed last year and will hopefully resume next season. Another event which had to be cancelled because of Covid 19 was the Tuam RFC 50th anniversary social at which Dygo would have been the club president.


"Yes 2020 was to be a huge year for the club and it was a privilege to be club president. However it was a huge disappointment having to cancel our social. We had people coming from far and near. People who started it all off. It was just not to be but hopefully we won't have to wait too much longer until we can finally celebrate," adds Dygo. 


Although Dygo's term as president ended in 2020, he instead undertook an equally crucial club role when he became the club's first ever Covid safety officer.


"As I was the outgoing president at an uncertain time due to the pandemic I decided to take up the role of Covid 19 safety officer. I knew how important that role was and I had a vision on how I wanted to carry it out.


"There was a huge amount of work involved early on because it was something new. There was alot of paperwork to fill out and protocols to follow. Once we put a safety plan in place and got our ducks in a row things began to run smoothly. 


"I have to commend everyone in the club. Everyone did their bit and I didn't have to go around and see was this being done or was that. Everyone just did their bit which made things easier," says Dygo.


Covid 19 also cut short the 2019/2020 playing season and has also seriously affected this season's campaign. Dygo is the current back's coach with the firsts while he has also sampled life as head coach having spent three years as head man before Barry Ruane took the reigns. 


"I was helping out Aengus Doherty when he was first team coach then after he left I ended up being the coach for three years. In truth this role probably came too soon in my career. I would like to have sampled coaching underage before I got to manage the firsts. 


"That said we did alright and even reached the All Ireland Junior Cup. I got great help from Pete Finnerty, Barry Ruane, Seàn Lelevre and Seàn Higgins.


"Nowadays I'm helping out with the firsts. I really admire the commitment these lads show. They train hard and make great sacrifices. Back in our day if we had only four or five pints on a Friday night before a game it was seen as a great effort. They are a good bunch of lads. It's also great to see Barry develop into an adult!" laughs Dygo.


In 2016 a chance meeting created what is now in his own words Dygo's biggest "pride and joy" in rugby. 


"There was a girl's rugby blitz being held in Tuam. I only had six or seven and Rodney (Norman Tierney- a former Tuam RFC player and close friend of Dygo) had six or seven girls from Oughterard. We decided to join the two teams together and we ended up winning the plate that day.


"This was the beginning of what is now the Tuam/Oughterard girls team and it has grown from strength to strength. We started off with just thirteen and just before Covid hit back in March 2020 we brought the girls on a day trip to Wild Land in Moycullen. We had over seventy girls on that trip.


"In 2018 we won the under 16 division two league defeating Sligo in Castlebar. It was a proud day seeing my two daughters being part of the team, Aebha and Nia. My daughter Ceoladh was captain of the under 14s last year which also fills me with pride," adds Dygo.


The huge strides Dygo and Norman Tierney have made with the Tuam/Oughterard ladies team is there for all to see. 


"We now have an under 14, under 16 and under 18 team. At some stage we'd love to see an adult team in Tuam/Oughterard. It's been an incredible journey and hopefully it continues," says Dygo.


As he looks at Tuam RFC in general, Dygo sees a very positive future for the club.


"The club is in great hands with a great committee. Things aren't just getting talked about being done, they are actually getting done.


"On the pitch it's going to get stronger and stronger. I'd love to say I'll get the chance to tog in the new dressing rooms but who knows. When they were building the bottom pitch I never thought I would play on it and twenty years later I'm still playing on it," concludes Dygo.

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