Connie Grace has been synonymous with juvenile games for almost thirty years. In that period he has held a variety of official positions at club, divisional and county level. While always ready to serve the needs of division and county, he still managed to play a prominent role in club affairs.
Connie attended Cloughjordan National School where the principal was his first cousin Roche Williams. Hurling was the only game played in the school and it was there that Connie developed a great love for the game. However it was as an administrator that he carved out a special niche for himself.
In 1972 Connie first came to prominence when he was elected secretary of the club. He didn’t relinquish this position until 1981. His tenure in office was a successful one with MacDonaghs winning four county titles and ten divisional titles in that period. As well as being a very competent secretary Connie was also a selector on U/12, U/14 and U/16 teams.
At that time Kilruane MacDonaghs and Toomevara were great rivals in juvenile hurling, so when the teams clashed Connie was pitting his wits against Niall Williams, his first cousin, who was in charge of the Greyhounds. The highlight of that period for Connie was the Feile na Gael of 1980 which was held in Galway. Connie was a selector on the Kilruane MacDonagh’s team which qualified for the Feile and reached the All-Ireland final. That was the most successful ever Kilruane MacDonaghs U/14 team as they won two North and two county titles in the same year.
In 1983 his abilities were recognised at a higher level when he was elected secretary of North Tipperary Bord na nOg, a position he held until 1987. While still secretary of Bord na nOg, the club called on his services once again in 1983 when he was elected chairman. Connie remained in this post until 1987. One of his abiding memories as club chairman was a trip to Ardyone Kickhams club in Belfast by the U/14 hurlers in 1985. In 1987 he took a brief break from official duties but still remained an active member of the Kilruane MacDonaghs club committee.
In 1992 North Tipperary Bord na nOg required his services again when he was elected chairman. The annual convention of the Bord in 2000 saw him elected to the position for the tenth successive year. In 1995 he was elected chairman of County Bord na nOg so between 1995 and 1999 he was in the unique position of being both divisional and county chairman. In 1997 he was elected vice-chairman of North Tipperary Senior Board and this year sees him begin his fifth consecutive year in this role.
Connie has made an immense contribution to the development of Bord na nOg in Tipperary. He has never been afraid to assume the responsibilities of office. In his selfless service to club, division and county he proved a worthy heir to fellow clubman, Con Heffernan one of the founding fathers of Bord na nOg.
Writing in the club history published in 1985, the late Canon Whyte wrote as follows “For the past ten years one man stands out above all others in juvenile affairs in Kilruane. He is Connie Grace. The kids know and respect Connie. He is their friend”
Few who know Connie would disagree with the sentiments expressed.
Chairman County Bord na nOg 1995-1999
Chairman North Tipperary Bord na nOg 1992 – 2001.
Secretary North Bord na nOg 1983 – 1987
Vice-Chairman North Senior Board 1997 – 2001.
Chairman Kilruane MacDonaghs Juvenile club 1983 – 1987
Secretary Kilruane MacDonaghs Juvenile club 1972 – 1981
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