“Being from old Mervue, the real part of Mervue, it started for me when I went down playing when I was seven or eight with Billy Carr and Billy McCormack,” Terry Flaherty recalls how Mervue United and football became a central part of his life.
That short walk to training and matches was a journey made by many, but the link is still strong. “It was down in the old Fahy's Field as we would call it. At that time we only had the green prefabs - that belonged to NUIG. They had Fahy's Field before Mervue.”
Now Mervue’s pitches and facilities illustrate what can be achieved with Flaherty stressing the value of sheer hard graft by many important figures in the club’s proud history.
“There has been massive investment in Fahy's Field and Sullivan Park. Lots of people were involved with Mervue before my time down through the years, they sowed the seeds.
“Declan McDonnell, we all say and we all agree, we wouldn't have what we have down there only for Declan's vision and his foresight to say you need to invest in facilities. In my time on the committee Declan was always pushing, pushing, pushing - we need to invest.
“If you are going to hold on to players and to attract players, you have to invest in your facilities. We have never stood still, we are always looking at how we can make facilities even better.”
Much has changed during Flaherty’s involvement as a player, coach, and administrator with the club. “Mervue is an older generation parish now, we don't have as many young kids in the parish so if we are going to get players in, the only way we are going to get them in at the moment is to invest - to have the best facilities and coaches,” he says.
“A lot of people criticise Mervue and Salthill for the way they have gone, but I always say to guys when they start criticising saying we are robbing or poaching players, we have to do that because we don't have the players in old Mervue or new Mervue anymore.
“We have to go out looking for players. Otherwise we won't have a club, we won't have a juvenile section, we want to have a juvenile section. We want to continue the good work the likes of Declan, Mike Shaughnessy, Gerry Lynskey, Billy Carr, Bernard Concarr, the Lord have mercy on him. Bernard was a great chairman of the club before he passed away playing for the club on the pitch. If we don't do that we aren't going to continue on.
“We have put huge money into Fahy's Field, people don't realise it. We have got grants, but we have to match those grants. We have done a lot of fundraising down through the years to match these grants. These government agencies just don't hand out money to you. We are putting in facilities that are going to benefit generations to come.”
Mervue’s ability to develop footballers and facilities has enabled them to prosper on the local, provincial, and national stages. Flaherty remains passionate about Mervue and what the club can offer youngsters.
“In the future we want to develop more players into the League of Ireland and across to the UK,” Flaherty adds. “These guys are the ambassadors and the guys that are going to sell your club to the younger players.”
What started with a meeting in McDonagh Avenue in 1960 has flourished into a vibrant club that has assisted players throughout the western region. Flaherty’s rich contribution to the Mervue cause is widely respected.
**Listen to the full interview with Terry Flaherty on this week's 'Cian On Sport' podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple podcasts.