Tributes are being paid today to Don Crowley, a titan of rugby in Galway and beyond, who passed away peacefully this week.
Crowley, a stalwart of rugby for Galway and Connacht, passed away on Tuesday August 16 in the care of his family.
Crowley had a lifelong connection with Galwegians RFC and Connacht, with the Galway City serving both on and off the pitch.
Educated at The Bish, while in school he won a Connacht Senior Schools Club medal and captained Connacht Schools XV.
He kept up with rugby when he went into higher education, competing in the Senior League with University College Galway.
Don Crowley started his lifelong association with Galwegians RFC while young also, winning a Junior League medal with the club.
During a distinguished administrative career after hanging up his boots, he served as Galwegians RFC President for 1976/77, during their famed tour of Canada.
After that, he served as the Honour Secretary of the Connacht Branch from 1981 to 1989, and was elected Connacht Rugby President for the 1993/94 season.
With the IRFU he was first elected as a delegate to the IRFU Committee in 1987/88 and sat on a range of various sub-committees.
In 2002/03 he was elected to the highest office in Irish Rugby by becoming President of the IRFU.
Quoted at the time he said, “I am very proud on a personal level and also for my club Galwegians and the Connacht Branch. After my very enjoyable playing career, I was very happy to serve the game at club, provincial and National level.”
This year, Galwegians held a celebratory dinner in his honour, attended by hundreds of friends and colleagues who paid tribute to him.
“It would also prove to be a momentous season, as the fate of Connacht rugby and its funding was under serious threat from the IRFU at the time,” a statement from Galwegians RFC said today.
“However under Don’s Presidency and stewardship, and with strong public backing from the grassroots rugby community, the province’s professional status was preserved.”
Galwegians President Frank Kinneen said, “Don Crowley ..our incredible statesman, life-long member of Galwegians and an absolute gentleman. May he rest in peace.”
A statement from Connacht Rugby said that the club “wishes to express our heartfelt sympathies to the friends and family of Don Crowley, and to everyone at Galwegians RFC who knew and worked with him,”