Tuam RFC

Founded 1970

Co. Galway

Club Profiles Paul Cosgrove


(This piece wuth Paul Cosgrove was done on 12th November 2020)

A club servant for forty eight years, this week Tuam RFC's club profile focuses on former president, player and coach PAUL COSGROVE.


Paul has been a huge part of Tuam RFC since he first joined the club back in 1972.


He recalls; "I was walking home from Sunday Mass one morning when I stopped to chat to a few lads I knew who were gathered outside the Imperial Hotel. Turns out they were waiting to go to a rugby game. Someone shouted at me 'Have you a pair of boots' and before I knew it I was on my way to the match with the lads".


This proved to be the start of Paul's journey with Tuam RFC where he became affectionately known as Cossie. He firmly believes the club has made incredible progress considering the club literally started from scratch.


"I remember when I started the club had nothing. And when I say nothing I really mean it. We had no ground, had to buy our own jerseys and tog out in cars and even use the showers belonging to the Imperial Hotel. Once our games were over we had to get down as fast as we could to the hotel to have a shower as we used to fight for hot water. To get to the showers behind the hotel you would be teased by the smell of the dinners coming from the windows.


"We were based out where the golf club is now and we would be training at night using the light from our cars. Eventually we had no choice but to move from here and we finally got a home in 1982 at Garraun Park."


Despite the tough conditions and lack of facilities, Tuam were making a big impression on the pitch." We reached two Junior Cup finals and we won the Ard na Cregg Cup in 76. I played scrum half and Murt McCormack was captain that day. It was just great to be involved. We celebrated well that night".


Following the end of his playing days, Cossie embarked on a coaching career and recalls how the players confused him at training before he could get them to confuse the opponents!


“We were sitting in Junies one night when John Carr and Philip Malynn asked me would I coach an underage team so I said I would. I went up the first night to coach the u-18 lads.


"I was completely lost because all I could hear was lads roaring 'Lugs, Nibs, Popeye and Dygo.' I was like what the hell is going on here! Popeye would be roared and I would have to see who moved! Almost everyone had a nickname. I eventually got the hang of things;" laughs Cossie.


After that eventful start to management, Cossie celebrated success but this too had its drama!


“I remember when I was involved with the u-20 team we won silverware. We were celebrating by driving around the town blowing horns and cheering when the cup fell as we were going around MCCormack's (now Supermacs) corner. Thankfully it didn't get damaged!"


Many of those players coached by Cossie would go on to become integral parts of the club's first team. Cossie himself would take up the role of club president in the 92/93 season.


"When I became president for the first time in '92, I was very much a novice president. I relied on older heads for advice. I had a better knowledge when I became president for the second time round in 1999. I realised there are two groups vital for a club to succeed. One is volunteers. The second is sponsors.


"We have been so lucky here at Tuam RFC with both. Our sponsors have always been obliging and they have helped with things like our own clubhouse which we built eighteen years ago. It meant we finally had our own dressing rooms and showers. 


"Also we have people who give up their time for the love of the game and club. For example coaches can prove hard to get. Yet I remember Jarlath Gaffney who was a teacher in the CBS putting in huge time and effort in training underage teams every Saturday morning. People like him sacrificing their time for the benefit of the club."


Cossie for his part is clearly not one to shy away when it comes to answering the club's call when asked. He has been involved with grounds keeping duties for over thirty years. He recalls how this came about. 


"Philip Malynn used to cut the grass and bring it off with him. Then one evening Pádraic Glynn rang me and said a fella called Gerry Conway would be coming up from Athlone with a new mower. Gerry showed me how to use it and to this day John Carr and I between the two of us have cut the pitches. Sean Carter has helped is out in recent years also. 


"It just fills me with so much pride on how far we have come. I've played on pitches where there has been deposits from cattle and sheep. Now we have pitches of our own that are level and lined properly. Like John Carr said to me one day that there was a man coming up to do a soil analysis and sand analysis. Like it's incredible how far we have come," says Cossie. 


The strides the club has made continued in the noughties when Cossie got a phone call he never in a million years expected! 


"John Carr rang me one night and said will you turn on the lights down the pitch because we've a girls team starting and they're going training tonight. When I started back in the seventies it would be unthinkable that women would be playing rugby yet alone that our club would have a women's team. It was just fantastic. There I was that evening after turning on the lights in my wellingtons and there was women coming in with shiny ear-rings and lovely perfume. It was just brilliant!"


Cossie stresses that he never sees his involvement with the club as work but rather quiet the opposite. 


"Tuam RFC is my second home. I have made lifelong friends through rugby. Its great to see when lads get involved with the club they stay on. Everybody can do their bit whether it's painting, coaching or fundraising.


"I remember when we first decided to have club dance socials it was vital to have them in the town. If people are good to you it's important to be good to them. The town of Tuam has been good to us and as a club its nice to return it.


"We have had black tie socials in Maloneys and also in the Complex. These were big nights. The Connacht president would be in attendance. It was great for the hotels that had them and for us too. It's like the shop local initiative and shop local raffles which we've done this year. It's so important for a club and businesses to work together," adds Cossie.


It is clear that Cossie has a huge love for the club and with his sons now involved in playing, it's obvious to see he has no sign of stopping.


"I was stewarding at a Connacht game last season and a fella I played against in the '70s said 'don't tell me you're still at it.' I really couldn't see myself at anything else. My three sons play for the club now. It's totally their choice, I never forced them to play. When they were young I always brought them to games. They loved the freedom rugby gave them and the friends they have made;" concludes Cossie.


Cossie's enthusiasm is as strong as it was forty-eight years ago which is only great news for Tuam Rugby Club.

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