Tonight in London, one of the eight finalists from the Racing Posts Betting Shop Manager of the Year will be crowned the overall champion for 2019.
Best of luck to our own Stephen McKenna who is Manager in our Garvaghy Road shop in Armagh!
Throughout my life I have immersed myself in teamwork through sport, work and, most importantly, family.
I left school at 19 and worked with my dad as a building site labourer before getting a job with O’Neill Bookmakers and this was where I spent the next 13 years.
Before that day I had never been in a betting shop; it was a completely new experience. The work was fantastic and exciting. I loved every minute of it and formed a lifelong friendship with the owner Tom O’Neill and his family.
We had a small team, but were a successful independent shop in Armagh. As Tom moved towards retirement I ran the shop for his last three years. This set me up for the changes to follow.
Our shop was taken over by Toals Bookmakers. Within two years I had been promoted from manager to area manager, a role that was challenging but rewarding.
In 2014 I was convinced to take part in a relay team in the Belfast Marathon. While training I couldn’t improve, if anything I was regressing. The reason was answered that April, the day before the Grand National. I was diagnosed with leukemia.
At this point the most important team I’m part of really stood up. My wife Emma and my three kids reassessed life and put everything into perspective. With the support, guidance and reassurance from Toals I was able to return to work as the shop manager at Aughnacloy and rebuild my confidence.
After three years I was ready for the challenge of Toals Garvaghy Road, possibly the best shop in Northern Ireland. While I’ve been there only four months, the relationship with staff and customers is fantastic.
Outside of work my major passion is with our local GAA club Tullysaran. It is the heart and soul of our rural community. My whole family are heavily involved as members, coaches and players.
My two sons, Mark and Luke, are exceptionally gifted players, while my daughter Anna possesses the skill and determination to be a top camogie player.
Check out our own website Toalsbet.com for the latest odds