The Executive Committee awards the title of Honorary Life Member to those Volunteers who have given exceptional service to Leinster Badminton over a protracted period of time. At this year’s AGM on Sunday 4th October, Alan Cobbe and Tom Dooley – both heavily involved in badminton in the South West region and League – were awarded this honour.
At the AGM, their nominator Roy Cobbe delivered the following speech detailing their accomplishments and thanking them for their dedication to the sport.
Tom Dooley, ballinabranna
Tom Dooley is from Ballinabranna in Carlow. He started playing with Ballinabranna over 50 years ago and I was delighted to be invited down there last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of what was (I think) their first South West Leinster Badminton final. It was absolutely great to see the full team of 8 players there on the night – still very active and looking very well.
Tom moved clubs a while after that to play at a higher level with Carlow Commercial and they later moved halls to play in the Carlow Tennis Club when that was built. Playing at the League’s top grade (Grade 1), Tom’s team won multiple League and Knock-out Cup titles and went on to represent the League to win many Leinster Grade 1 Inter-league titles and won (I think) three All Ireland titles. Tom also won a Leinster Graded Individuals mixed title with Marie Sheehan.
On court, Tom was a very deceptive left-handed player that many players underestimated and found out to their cost (myself included).
But Tom also believed it was important to give back to the sport, and as long as I have been involved with the South West League Tom has been on the Executive Committee or the Grading Committee. His knowledge and his input was always invaluable. Even when Tom wasn’t on the committee, if we were in a hall and Tom was there we never were short of someone to count games or do lines. All you have to do is ask Tom and the answer you will get is “where do you want me?”.
Tom also started coaching juveniles in Ballinabranna not long after he started playing, and at the time could see with the talent in the club. He would enter them in the community games in the county. In the competition at that time teams had 12 players so as you can imagine it took a lot of work to put out teams each year.
His Club / Parish team won the county title for 24 years in a row and in 1995, the team went on to win a national community games title. Tom stopped coaching a while after that but the juvenile club in Ballinabranna went from strength to strength to produce many many good players that played at all levels for club and county.
Tom has given a huge amount to badminton in our part of Leinster and really deserves this small token of appreciation from us.
Alan Cobbe, pORTARLINGTON pAROCHIAL
Alan Cobbe started playing in the mid 70s in Portarlington when the two of us started going into the hall on our bikes to find something to keep us out of mischief. Maybe it was our mother who sent us off to try stop us breaking windows with the ball – we were quite good at doing that! At that time there was no juvenile club. We just went to the senior club and one of the adults tried to teach us.
He started playing on a senior team the year after, and with the exception of one year when he was in college, has played on a senior team in the club ever since at nearly all levels.
He has won numerous league titles with the club at grade 4, 3 ,2 and a couple at Grade 1. He has won 3 Leinster Inter-league titles and one All Ireland title which I know he is very proud of – as am I. Alan played Inter-county at senior level for many years and won one Leinster title as well.
As with Tom, Alan was always willing to give back to the sport and has been club secretary for much of his playing career with the miserable job of trying to arrange matches and keep all happy. He also has been a county selector for Laois senior and juvenile teams on numerous occasions and has been Laois county Chairman for about 20 years on and off.
While Alan has been hugely involved with organising badminton at senior level, it is in coaching juveniles that Alan has given most back. In 1980, the then Clergyman in the parish approached Alan and a couple of us to know if we would take on, as he called it at the time “junior badminton”. At that time, none of us had any coaching experience or qualifications but we agreed to try and teach kids to play badminton. After a few years I took a different direction in the badminton world and Alan went off and did the coaching courses and started coaching kids on a Saturday evening. He is still coaching kids on a Saturday evening to this day, 40 years later.
I don’t know how many he has coached but it’s a great many. Portarlington club at the moment has a very successful Grade 1 team and nearly all the players on it have come up all the grades with Alans coaching. He also coached juvenile county teams and brought them to many Leinster titles. I would say that nearly everyone playing badminton in Laois now has been coached by Alan at some point. He coached several players that went on to play on our Leinster Senior teams.
As with Tom, he is a worthy candidate for this.
With the impact of COVID-19, it is not possible to do the usual presentation at this time. A formal presentation will be made at a future SWLBL event, when possible to do so.