Last Sunday at the 2017/18 Connacht Rugby Awards, Leo Galvin was honoured with the Lifetime Contribution to Rugby award in recognition of his inspiring commitment to his club, province and country.

It is almost impossible to quantify the number of rugby men and women in Connacht who have been positively impacted by Leo Galvin’s dedication to the sport. Whether it be as a player or administrator, his contribution to the province is clear for all to see. Now, the role he has played in Connacht Rugby’s development is not only fully acknowledged but indeed forever remembered.

As a young player Leo represented Garbally College while he was also selected on the UCD Team of the Century, a clear indication of his on-field quality from a young age.

Those qualities would develop him further into one of the province’s all-time greats. He went on to represent Connacht over three decades, including such highlights as playing against an All Blacks side that fielded great players like Grant Batty and Sid Going.

Leo Galvin with members of his family at Sunday’s Connacht Rugby Awards ©INPHO/James Crombie

During that time he also had the ultimate honour of wearing the green jersey of Ireland against Argentina in 1974 when he partnered the great Willie John McBride in the second row. To this day he remains the only person from Roscommon to play for Ireland. Unfortunately as Argentina were not recognised by the International Rugby Board, caps were not awarded for games played against them. However speaking in John Scally’s book 100 Irish Rugby Greats, Galvin said that didn’t sour his appearance in the Ireland green.

“It would have been nice to get a cap but it was such an honour to have played for Ireland and donning the Irish jersey, and that honour was all I needed” he said. “It is nice to see that jersey I wore that day is hanging on the wall in the rugby club in Athlone”.

Leo was and continues to be extremely proud of his club and local roots. He served as captain of Athlone RFC while his hometown of Taughmaconnell, Co. Roscommon beamed with pride at how their local hero made such waves across the rugby scene. For a town not generally regarded as a major rugby stronghold, to have one of their sons make such an impact on the sport is something that will live long in the memory.

Leo Galvin (centre) in 2010 during his days on the IRFU committee

His playing days came to an end, but his association with Connacht Rugby was only just beginning. He served as an administrator for Connacht Rugby and IRFU over many years – a true reflection of his desire to give back to the community and an inspiring example of everything that is great about volunteerism.

As a former President of Athlone RFC, he was also one of the driving forces behind the club’s amalgamation with Ballinasloe to form Buccaneers RFC, joining Division 3 of the All-Ireland League for the 1993/94 season. On the provincial scene he served as President of Connacht Rugby for the 2002-2003 season and remains and active follower at all levels.

Connacht Rugby were honoured to bestow Leo with the accolade at The Galmont on Sunday night on what was a very proud day for the Galvin family.

Leo Galvin (front left) alongside the fellow winners at the 2017/18 Connacht Rugby Awards ©INPHO/James Crombie

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