Within the County of Tipperary, Tom’s expertise in the coaching and games field was highly rated and for many years was a very valued servicing secretary to Chairmen of the calibre of Con Hogan, Denis Floyd and Pat Moroney and their respective committees in the promotion and development of Gaelic Games and helped in no small way in putting the excellent coaching structures that we now enjoy in place.
Within the County of Tipperary, Tom’s expertise in the coaching and games field was highly rated and for many years was a very valued servicing secretary to Chairmen of the calibre of Con Hogan, Denis Floyd and Pat Moroney and their respective committees in the promotion and development of Gaelic Games and helped in no small way in putting the excellent coaching structures that we now enjoy in place. He had a wonderful working relationship with the G.D.A.s under the Management of Dinny Maher. He was highly regarded at Munster Council level and also at National level where he built up a wonderful friendship and reciprocal respect with the head of games in Croke Park, Pat Daly.
In his own unique way at coaching and games seminars at provincial and national level he commanded the respect of such high profile hurling men as our own Len Gaynor and Donie Nealon and such national figures as Ger. Loughnane and Kilkenny’s own Ned Quinn something not easily achieved.
His contribution in that field was recognised nationally a few years ago when as part of the All Ireland club weekend on the 17th of March A.I.B. made a presentation to two people that had made a huge impact on the coaching and games field and I was honoured to join the Collum family at the A.I.B. headquarters where the then President of the GAA Christy Cooney presented the high profile award to Tom in company with Tony Regan of Roscommon and N.U.I.G. Galway who had earned his award for work done in the promotion og Gaelic Games at Galway University. While up to now I have dealt with the outside impact that Tom has made I think that it is as a clubman that he would like to be best remembered. He was the epitomy of what a good clubman should be. He was one of the founding fathers of the J.K. Brackens club and whatever his outside involvement was, the welfare of the Brackehns was his priority. He was thrilled when the club was doing well in any grade of hurling or football and on the few occasions that the county honours came our way his sense of enjoyment was always in evidence. Having enjoyed the fact that his own son Seán, representing J.K.Brackens club, led Tipperary in a Munster football final. He always took great pride when our club was represented on county teams in different grades and ensured if successful, the club would rightly honour All Ireland Medal winners which, thank God we have experienced over the last two decades.
He got a great buzz as club steward organising matches at Páirc Shileáin or Semple Stadium and God help any of us that did not appear on time or do our duty as we should. I can assure you that those places will not be the same without him. For over twenty five years he was the club’s co-ordinator in the County Board Draw which helped in no small way towards the running of the local unit and he did it in a well organised and efficient manner that endeared him to both club and county Board co-ordinator Tim Floyd.
As I come to the end of my few words on Tom I am conscious of how inadequatly I portray a great man. He was first and foremost a good husband, a doting father and grandfather, a proud son of West Limerick, a good neighbour and a wonderful parishoner and fundraiser when needed whether it be for the club, the parish, Friends of Tipperary Football, the Tipperary Supporters Club or some deserving charity he was never found wanting.
As he struggled in those final weeks and when our conversions would be in one liners you could just the same get the message. My first introduction a few weeks ago was “We are in the Munster Final” referring to the Feonogagh-Castlemahon football team that were contesting the junior final. He didn’t refer to the result on the next weekend and despite his deteriorating health he could could come up out of the blue with a question “How is the Brackens” perhaps that question deserves a positive response from all of us associated with the club.
Well as we get ready to say goodbye to Tom who has gone to join his old club friends Mick Delaney, Mick Cahill, Tim Marnell, Micky Grimes and Enda McDonnell and working mates of yester year in the Garda Siochána I want to finally thank Geraldine, Seán and Mary and the extended Collum family for sharing him with us over the years and I pray that “the bed of heaven be his everlasting Home”.