National Football Exhibition launched at Sligo City Hall

National Football Exhibition launched at Sligo City Hall Mayor Councillor O Grady with grandson Harry and John Delaney Chief Executive FAI

Mayor Councillor Rosaleen O ‘Grady welcomed John Delaney, Chief Executive of the FAI, and other guests from the local and regional soccer community to Sligo City Hall on Friday for the launch of the National Football Exhibition.

Designed to celebrate 60 years of the European Championships, the Exhibition showcases significant parts of Irish footballing history. Separated into six different zones to represent various parts of Irish & European football, the exhibition contains rare match programmes, unique match jerseys, treasured memorabilia, and a ‘local’ section of Sligo Rovers exhibits organised by the club’s Heritage Group. The exhibition will be opened to the public until 28th February.

In her address, Mayor O Grady said ‘ We consider it  a privilege that Sligo is the first venue outside Sligo to host the National Football exhibition.  At a personal level,  I am proud of my family's connections with the  game and our local club, with my son Conor having the privilege of captaining Sligo Rovers, an experience that yielded special times and  wonderful memories. Conor is now passing on that his experience through his involvement with the current Rovers U 15 squad.

National Football Exhibition 2 Mayor O Grady presents a copy of Sligo Rovers history to FAI Chief Executive John Delaney

Tradition
This community is steeped in the tradition of soccer. The sport was brought to the town by British soldiers who were billeted in a barracks not far from City Hall, and the popularity of the sport evolved and grew over the years, culminating in the foundation of Sligo Rovers in 1928. There is a rich tapestry of sporting interest in this country, with the  main-stream sports of soccer, Gaelic and rugby thriving along with  numerous so-called minority sports.

Fascinating detail
This wonderful exhibition provides fascinating detail into the many strands of the history of soccer in Ireland, and offers a unique perspective on the development of the game at all levels. The timing could not be more fitting, as this evening marks the launch of the new league season, as the local Rovers take the field shortly against champions Dundalk.

Optimism

There is no doubt that we have found recent seasons challenging, but as ever,  we embrace the new campaign with optimism and feel  confident our club can grow and develop under our new manager Liam Buckley - Liam has already made a very positive impact on the team and its supporters.  I would like to thank our special guest John Delaney for taking the time to join us here this evening, he is a regular and welcome visitor  to our town and our club.

Exhibition team

An exhibition of this scale would not have been possible without an enormous input from many people, and I want especially to acknowledge the contribution of Cllr Marie Casserly and Mark Cummins  from the Sligo Rovers Management Committee, Colm Hand from the FAI, Emily and  Niamh from Grooveyard who arranged and laid out  the  exhibition. A special ‘thank you’  to  David McLoughlin from  our own staff who   coordinated the various arrangements here in City  Hall, and did so with great professionalism and attention to detail.

Historic setting

I also want to acknowledge the assistance of Sligo Rovers Heritage  Group who organised the local exhibits, and this element of the  display will prompt special memories among local supporters. I know that when you were doing your research into various local venues for the exhibition, other options were being considered - but  you could have no better setting than Sligo City Hall. This is one of our finest, historic buildings, an important civic space,  and the traditional welcoming venue when our  beloved Rovers return  from the capital with a trophy.  Hopefully, we will have cause to convene here again before too long for that very reason.’

The Mayor concluded her address by encouraging  ‘The people of Sligo and region, the soccer community and  the wider public, to take the time to visit, explore and enjoy this wonderful exhibition.’

National Football Exhibition 3 Under the ‘1937 League Champions Banner’ were (L-R) Cllr Hubert Keaney, Cllr Gino O’Boyle, Mayor Cllr Rosaleen O Grady, Pat Wallace, Cllr Declan Bree, Cllr Chris MacManus
National Football Exhibition 4 Mayor Cllr O Grady with former Sligo Rovers players at National Football exhibition: Front row: Joey N’Do, Conor O Grady with son Harry, John Delaney, Chief Executive FAI Back Row: Trevor Scanlon, Chris Rutherford, Tony Fagan and Paul McGee
National Football Exhibition 5 Deputy Eamon Scanlon with Sligo County Council’s Aine Higgins