PJ Quinn

A native of Kilbeg, Kilbeggan, PJ Quinn has been involved in the GAA all his life. Since settling in New York nearly 20 years ago, he has been actively associated with the local Westmeath club both as a player and manager.

PJ first played Gaelic football while attending national school and went on to represent Rosemount with distinction at underage level, winning under 16 and minor medals. He was barely out of his teens when he decided to emigrate to the States.

But the GAA bug had bitten hard and following the formation of the Westmeath club in New York in the late 1980s, he became one of its most committed members.

PJ lined out in goal for Westmeath for nearly a decade, helping himself to three New York championships - at junior, junior ‘B’ and senior levels. In 2001 and 2002, he managed the team and could consider himself unlucky not to have delivered a senior championship.

“In 2001, we lost the county final to Donegal and the following year we were beaten by Kerry in the semi-final after leading by nine points with less than 20 minutes to go,” he recalls.

“Even though the 2001 team went to the final, I felt we had a better team in 2002. We had the likes of Enda Muldoon, Kieran McCusker (both Derry), Padraig Hurley, Terry Rossiter (Kildare), Evan Kelly (Meath), Aidan Canning, PJ Ward, Eoin Farrell and Brian Murphy (all Westmeath) playing with us that year and it’s disappointing to think that we didn’t get to the final at the very least.”

While he’s not as heavily involved now as he once was, PJ still maintains a great interest in the club and he is always glad to hear from players who are interested in playing football in New York for the summer.

“Any player looking to come out for the summer should get in contact with myself or any other member of the Westmeath club. They will be provided with work and accommodation.

“The Westmeath team is managed by Brendan Kirby from Castletown-Geoghegan this year and his aim will be to win the senior championship. We haven’t won it since 1996 when Westmeath also won the senior hurling championship that year. It’ll be tough with the likes of Donegal and Stanford around, but we’re certainly not without hope,” he adds.

A great supporter of the Westmeath team back home, PJ has been disappointed with their performances in the recent National League. However, he still feels they are capable of making an impact on the championship.

“There was a huge amount of hype when Paidi O Se first took over the team and I suppose the good run in the O’Byrne Cup only added to that. But some of the performances in the National League were very poor and the confidence levels aren’t as high as they should be going into the championship,” he points out.

“But it would be foolish to judge a team on their league form. We’ll know the true worth of this Westmeath team when they play Offaly in the first round of the championship.”

Along with his brother Tom (who has garnered New York championship medals with Westmeath and Cavan), PJ established Meldrum Contracting in 1996. A general contracting company, Meldrum specialises in building and renovating homes. Approximately 90 per cent of the work is carried out in Conneticut with the remainder in New York. Six people are employed directly, with the majority of the work being done on a sub-contracting basis.

Both PJ and Tom take a keen interest in greyhound racing. Currently, they have seven dogs with trainers in Ireland, the most highly-rated of which is Early Lark who has won a number of prestigious races in recent times.