The Stephen’s Day game between married and single players is an annual tradition stretching back decades at St Kevin’s Boys.
The inner-city club are well-known for nurturing the talents of Liam Brady, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and a host of future Irish internationals.
The community element of the club is just as strong, however, and few embodied that more than Paul Smyth, who was deeply embedded in the club for 40 years until his untimely passing this year.
Smyth was everything from kitman to underage manager, welcoming committee and clubhouse custodian in Whitehall.
He was also a key part of the annual Stephen’s Day game in which players and supporters would contribute to a worthy charity each year while enjoying a post-Christmas kickabout.
“This year was a significant year in the club because we lost one of the greats in the club, Paul Smyth,” says Kevin’s PRO Neil Fox.
“Paul was in the club over 40 years and he was a constant figure in the club and will be a huge loss. This year we decided it would be in memory of Paul and in association with Pieta House.
“He managed, and he was a physio for the senior team for a long time. We contacted a lot of former players to see would they like to play, and the response was fantastic.”
The response from those who want to pay tribute was so good that they may have to look at running two games or rolling substitutions to ensure that everybody is catered for on the day.
“We’re looking at 60 players. Normally, it would be current players and members that play in the game on Stephen’s Day, but we reached out and asked guys who haven’t been around in a while.”
A plaque, designed by his friend and fellow club member Ken Donohoe, will be unveiled in honour of Paul before the game, while his family will be in attendance.
The day will be particularly poignant for Fox, who spent virtually every day in Paul’s presence, and fellow organisers Ciaran Heffernan and Donal Bermingham.
“The reason I ended up in St Kevin’s Boys was through Paul Smyth. I went down there when I was eight or nine, so I’ve known Paul all my life.
“In the last 10-15 years I’ve gone back into the club on a full-time basis and I’d be in there every day with Paul.
“He was a brilliant guy, and you didn’t need to ask, if you needed anything done he’d help you. He ran the club.
“Even after he passed, away clubs would come over and say they’re very sorry, they didn’t know him well but they were always made feel welcome by Paul. The amount that have said that is unreal.
“Myself and a couple of lads have been tasked with locking up the club every night and, even now, when you’re locking up it’s hard to imagine.
“He’d always have been the last to leave. It’s a huge loss to the club and it’s still raw. It’s definitely changed the club.”