Michael O’Donoghue is the latest inductee into the AFL Darling Downs Juniors illustrious Life Membership category, being recognised after 15 years service to the local game.
‘Mickers’ as he is known by many, started out volunteering for the Toowoomba East Stingers in their inception year of 1997 when his son, Michael Junior started as a spritely 12 year old. While at the Stingers he held almost every role imaginable from boundary umpire, to scoreboard attendant, to Vice President and even taking stats.
As Michael Junior grew older and became involved in talented player programs, Michael Senior helped run the Under 12 and Under 14 State Carnivals when they were held in Toowoomba, where he got his first taste of representative footy.
Since then, Michael has been a stalwart at the Darling Downs Demons & Country Kookaburras programs as the trainer and as a runner for 7 years. Through this he has seen numerous Darling Downs boys compete at the highest level and mature from boys into young men, competing against many who now play in the AFL.
“I just want to help kids on the Downs anyway I can” said O’Donoghue.
“It’s my passion to see them develop their skills, maturity and self-belief in themselves, while having fun along the way”
This passion has also seen O’Donoghue have a long history with the Under 18 Darling Downs Crows and Toowoomba Rams as they were previously known. He has also stepped up to fill the first aid roles for the newly formed Under 14 Crows, which he describes as one of his greatest achievements.
Because of this involvement, the Under 18 Crows Leading Goalkicker and the Under 14 Best & Fairest awards are both named after him; highlighting the impact he has had on the development of young footballers on the Downs.
Michael is always seen at junior and senior matches on the Downs, helping out where he can and greeting all comers with a smile. He remembers the names of everyone he has met and provides the representative players with a fantastic mentor and friend.
“I have made heaps of lifelong friends through the DDAFL community and no doubt will continue to make many more”, he also said.
This Saturday Mickers will be out at the Darling Downs grand finals, no doubt wearing his membership badge with pride as he goal umpires or time keeps the biggest game of the year. All the while, watching the reason he first became involved; hoping to see his son achieve premiership glory for the third consecutive year.