Tuam RFC

Founded 1970

Co. Galway

Club Profiles Tom "Hacker" Maher


(This piece was done on 10th August, 2020)

As 2020 is our 50th anniversary year, we continue our club profile of individuals who have played an important role in Tuam RFC's history.


One person who fits this criteria perfectly is former club captain, coach and president Tom Maher, more affectionately known as 'Hacker.'


Having played rugby for St. Mary's College Dublin while practicing veterinary, Tom was encouraged by his wife to continue playing the sport for his new town of Tuam. He recalls; "When I got married and moved here I thought I was finished playing rugby. The club had been coming and going without being fully established. Gaelic games was the predominant sport as it was everywhere else.


"Back then Thursday was a half day for businesses in Tuam. I got to know lads who worked in banks, butchers, newsagents etc. A few had rugby backgrounds like myself so eventually we formed a team. We played our first match against Corinthians in the Sportsgrounds. Murt McCormack was our manager and he appointed me as captain".


Tom describes Tuam RFC's birth in 1970 as an "obscure infancy." He explains; "We started with a panel of sixteen, only three of us had previous rugby experience. The rest were GAA players. At first they used to kick the ball but never follow it but they soon learnt how to play.


"Although our panel consisted of just sixteen, we still had a selectors meeting every Tuesday night. Leslie Callow could be credited for this. He was involved with Landsdowne in Dublin but came to Tuam as a manager in the Sugar factory. Everything from our stockings matching the colour of our jerseys to being on time at training were all now team requirements."


This level of professionalism combined with rugby as a social outlet were for Tom, two incredibly important ingredients in building Tuam rugby as a club.


"We had a great relationship with PJ Grealish of the Imperial Hotel. He helped provide us with dressing rooms and showers. In return we had many a good night in the Imperial Hotel. We had many fundraisers such as fancy dress parties which also helped integrate us as a club into the town of Tuam."


With the club up and running, silverware would soon follow. "It was in the 75/76 season when we played Ballinrobe in the Ard na Cregg Cup final in the old Sportsgrounds in Galway. We had a great win and it was just a brilliant day for all involved."


Tom played in the back row that day as he did for every Tuam game but for those wondering how did he get the nickname 'Hacker' he explains;" "There was an old Munster addage 'kick a head, any head' and I was a firm believer in hacking the ball away at all costs!!"


Although in later years 'Hacker' would play a game at the age of 57, for now he retired and took up a few coaching roles. Here too he would enjoy success.


"I coached the U-18 team and in 1989 we won the Connacht Cup. I took tremendous pleasure in coaching that team. They were a great bunch. Players like Grant Nolan, Mickey O Connor, Jimmy Maughan. It was also special to have my son Tommy playing on the team. Also that one of the lads, Michael Loftus would go onto coaching in Athlone and also enjoying great success there."


In later years Tom received a plaque in recognition of his achievement as manager which sits proudly beside his laptop and acts as a daily reminder of that great day. 


Tom is a firm believer that the skills he taught were not just for the game of rugby but for life itself. He says "The schooling I got was that whatever you learned you spread. I thought this was especially important for those who emigrated. For example a person came up to me one time in a pub and told me how he was sitting on his own in a flat in Wolverhampton and was looking out the window at lads playing rugby. He had only ever played GAA so he hadn't the courage to ask them to play rugby. See if he had learnt the sport he would have been able to mix with the lads and made friends too."


Tom went on to become the President of Tuam RFC and was responsible for bringing in the first ladies Secretary. However he admits his greatest love for rugby was always with using the ball rather than administrative duties. "I found it difficult to listen to the Hurler on the ditch coming over to me at matches criticising players when I was at games so I isolated myself from this by taking up golf!"


Now in his eightieth year, Tom was looking forward to the clubs 50th year celebrations but unfortunately due to Covid 19 this wasn't possible. However he said he can't wait when it gets the go ahead and he can sit down with Murt McCormack and reminisce about the good old days!

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