by Ciarán Ó Flaithearta
Many of us might recognise the LK Shields name from the different places around the club, be it the match day jersey or the sponsor boards around the main pitch. But how many of us really know who LK Shields are and what they stand for?
I sat down with two LK Shields solicitors and former Galwegians players Kris O’Shea and Stephen Browne, to answer these questions.
Kris began playing for Wegians’ at the age of 14 following a move from Loughrea. He went on to play with the club until he was 24, playing for the Mens’ firsts during their time in AIL 1B. A stand-out memory for Kris, as he worked his way through the ranks, was reaching the U16 All Ireland in Naas in 2006.
Stephen, on the other hand, might be a more familiar face having played with the club as recently as the start of the 2021 season, but following a torn calf muscle he was forced to hang up the boots for a while.
In short LK Shields is a corporate law firm that started in Dublin. They offer a full range of corporate law services, from commercial law to employment, litigation, property and so much more.
LK Shields opened a Galway office a few years ago, which Kris says has been massively important to their customers in the West, We found Galway people like talking to Galway people, it’s amazing. The Galway office has been open for a few years now and it’s important to us to be putting Galway people on the ground here. I’m from Loughrea born and bred, and it’s pretty much the same as everyone else in the office. They’re from Galway or at least the West, so we’re making a real conscious effort to have a real boots-on-the-ground mentality here”.
With the focus on Galway, the importance of community in the county was clear to see, which is why the next step LK Shields needed to take was simple; to get involved in the local communities, “First of all, I suppose it’s just to get the name out in the area and make it known that we support local companies, local clubs, and local teams. We want to show that we’re not just here to pay lip service we’re here to get fully integrated into and be part of everything.”
When choosing a team to sponsor, Wegians was a perfect fit for LK Shields as the spirit of the club aligned well with that of the LK Shields Galway office, “It is a good match, when it was being discussed inside, having come up through the underage system in Wegians and seeing what that’s like, the kind of camaraderie and all, it is something that appealed to us, and when it was bounced off me, it was something I was eager to keep going. I think there are a lot of similarities, there’s an appreciation here for all of that camaraderie and teamwork. There are huge similarities, both of us being a Western team, a ‘Western Force’ battling it out” says Kris.
In turn, LK Shields’s support has been integral to what goes on in Galwegians since signing the deal three years ago. Club teams need this type of sponsorship to run year in and year out, to pay for things such as insurance, and maintenance to ensure all club members receive the best experience when they come through the gates of Crowley Park, which is why chairman Mike Ryan praises LK Shields so highly for their support, “We’re hugely appreciative of the sponsorship provided by LK Shields, clubs like ours cannot survive without sponsorships such as this. LK Shields is a new and successful firm of solicitors in Galway, and we wish them every success for the future”.
For the two lads, Galwegians has had a lasting effect on their lives after rugby. The friends they have made along with the lessons they’ve learned, and skills they’ve fine-tuned through the sport, all transfer into their work lives. Stephen says that “Coming through Wegians during those important years of your life between 18 and 24, then going through college, it helped that I had made all those friends in the club. But it also helped shape the person you become, from the people you hang out with because there are so many great people in the club. Outside of rugby, I learned an awful lot about myself and all the social skills, it all rubs off on you. I really enjoyed my time playing there I got a lot more from the club than just rugby, and that’s an important takeaway.”