Saturday, August 29, 2020
By Finian Coghlan
IT’S A fairly common theme – local lad done good – but to glide like a multinational swan there has to be years of paddling like a demon on three hours a night kip, and this is the simple fact of the Newbridge man who went from pumping petrol in McLoughlin’s Garage at 11 years of age to owning Ireland’s largest privately-owned security firm with an annual turnover in the region of €30m.
Sean Hall (55), the quiet, Beechwood Avenue-reared businessman behind this success story popped back up on the radar last month when his firm Manguard Plus signed a ten-year sponsorship deal with his beloved Moorefield GAA.
This will see his financial commitment extend to a full generation after his eight-year deal previously with the club’s minis, and when included with his firm’s sponsorship of the Kildare GAA Centre of Excellence in Hawkfield – as well as his support of Carbuy, Suncroft, and Kilcullen GAA – it will put Manguard’s contribution to local football somewhere in the region of €350,000.
“Sports are so important keep them from all the distractions,” he said modestly.
(His firm also sponsor both soccer clubs in the town, as well as Crumlin United and St Patrick’s Athletic, where his son is on the books as an u-13 player.)
“He keeps me going,” said the father of five, and underage coach of Moorefield for the past 12 years.
“The hard work ethic was instilled by my parents [Sean and Margaret], and I think it’s paid off,” he said simply.
As was the case in the late ’70s and early ’80s, with rampant inflation and shag-all employment, if there was the possibility of a job for a working class teenager then the luxury of finishing one’s Leaving Cert was not always a possibility for a fellow like Sean, who left the vocational school after the old group cert in 2nd year.
“I quite liked school, and would’ve liked to have finished it, but the requirement then was to bring in income in the ’80s,” said the eldest of four.
“I wouldn’t say I was forced out, but I had worked in McLoughlins Garage since I was 11 pumping petrol and washing cars part time and during the summer.
“The family needed the income, and it was the natural thing,” he pointed out.
He started off at 15 behind the bar at the Horseshoe Inn, but it was not long before his near two-metre (6’6”) frame saw him on the door as a foil for the more loquacious customer.
He then joined the same security firm as his father Sean and began working the clubs of Dublin by night, and as a regular security guard by day.
“I had to. I started a family at 20 and had two by 21 (with “the boss” Theresa),” he admitted.
“I joke with the kids that for at least five years I survived on three hours sleep a night!” he laughed. But he wasn’t kidding. Family and work ethic are two of the recurring themes throughout our conversation.
They returned to Newbridge in the mid-’80s, where he worked his way up to contracts manager by the mid-’90s.
A three-month lay-up with a broken ankle in 1995 gave him the impetus to start his own firm Cill Dara Security, and that year he got his first big chance when Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) asked this local firm to look after the catering at the Curragh.
“We’ve been there ever since. We’ve a great relationship, and would do anything for The Curragh,” he said.
Very soon other tracks like Leopardstown and Fairyhouse “could see what we could do”, and within three years the word-of-mouth referral system worked its way back up the Naas Road as Cill Dara Security bagged the contracts with PWA, Airmotive and Independent Newspapers.
“It was all referrals. We didn’t have a sales team – we still don’t,” he said proudly.