The late Garda Robert McCallion will be fondly remembered by family, friends and colleagues on Sunday May 6 when Swinford GAA club host a challenge match between Mayo and Donegal to mark the rededication of their all-weather pitch. Robbie lost his fight for life on April 7, 2009 from injuries received while on duty as a garda in Letterkenny. “He was a proud and very active member of Swinford GAA club and the community feel that this dedication is a fitting tribute to him,” said Mayo GAA PRO and Swinford club member, Aiden McLoughlin.
“We have spent the last year or so making sure the pitch and facilities are of the highest standard,” he added. “We are now happy to say that they are worthy of the Ulster and Connacht champs - and all their fans. To have the Connacht and Ulster champions playing in our own back yard is quite a treat for the GAA folk of Swinford. That they are playing in honour of one of our own makes it even more special. The decision to rededicate the pitch in Robbie's honour was not taken lightly. But Robbie struck a chord. It’s a combination of the way he played the game, the manner in which he approached his life and way in which he left it. He was a man who set himself high standards.
“We in the Swinford GAA dedicate our pitch to Robbie with an eye to the past and a promise for the future. We honour Robert's memory. But we also make a commitment as to how we as a club will conduct ourselves. We make a public statement to be an active servant to the community of Swinford. Through this rededication of our pitch, we have set ourselves a goal of high standards. We will strive to meet this goal. We’re getting Dr Padraig Carney, a beloved local son and one of the last Mayo men to have lifted Sam Maguire, to fly in from California for the ceremony. He was the man who originally opened the pitch back in 1979. He has shown an eagerness and energy that would probably still earn him a corner forward spot on the Mayo team, or the bench at least!
“Once Dr Carney was asked there was no hesitation. He considered it an honour. The same can be said of James Horan and Jim McGuinness. Everybody who has been asked to participate or contribute to this event has done so, with no questions asked. Days and events such as these show that, when the cause is right and the people are behind you, football can be so much more than a game.”
Things will get underway at 12.30pm when Swinford take on a Garda selection, which will then be followed by the dedication of the pitch and the inter-county challenge game between Mayo and Donegal.