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Meet John Rooney: Supporting Irish amateur golf is a passion for the MD of Flogas

by Ronan MacNamara

As some of the world’s elite amateurs tee it up in the final round of the Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur Open Championship today at the European Club, one man who will be watching on with excitement is John Rooney, the managing director of Flogas who are sponsoring the event for the sixth year.

Flogas have been good for golf and golf has been good for Flogas. Before Rooney took up the role of managing director of the gas and energy company seven years ago, he worked mostly in the food business for the likes of Campbell Soup, Kelloggs and Johnston Mooney & O’Brien.

Rooney has seen Flogas grow from an LPG business, selling liquid gas, cylinders, bulk gas for off grid homes and businesses to selling natural gas to customers both residentially and commercially.

“In the last five to seven years we have moved into electricity for both residential and commercial customers, so we are now a dual fuel supplier competing with the likes of Electric Ireland, SSE Airtricity, Energia so that’s our company vision to be Ireland’s leading provider in energy solutions. So no matter where you live in Ireland on grid, off grid, whether you want gas, electricity or solar, biomass etc we have it.

“We have a business called Clear Power and they specialise in biomass so it is carbon free and LPG gas is quite popular because even as a fossil fuel it is low carbon emitting, compared to oil. We have cars running on auto gas which has almost zero emissions.”

Flogas are constantly adapting to the challenges that the energy crisis and climate change pose and while they continue to weigh heavy, the company have also spent the best part of two years dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the obstacles that has brought, but Rooney is confident that the worst days are behind them and he feels the company are emerging from the pandemic in a position of strength.

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John Rooney (2nd left) at the launch of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open. Photo by Golffile

“Covid was a challenge for our customers, particularly on the LPG side we have a lot of hospitality customers who need to heat their facilities. They all struggled during COVID which had a knock on effect to our business in terms of the volumes we sold.

“We were regarded as an essential service provider so we had to keep delivering to hospitals and nursing homes etc. We are coming out the right side and we are now faced with this unprecedented rise in energy costs, we are looking at a five to sixfold increase year on year which is presenting a lot of challenges to us.

“It will be a case of survival of the fittest but we are a financially fit company with a good customer base and a good brand so we are hopeful that we will come out the other side and things will settle down in the spring from both a COVID and energy crisis point of view.

“In terms of the future we know climate change is top of people’s minds and we are already ahead of the curve, we are the only dual fuel provider that offers 100% renewable electricity and fully carbon offset gas, so that gives us an edge in the market,” he added.

A keen golfer who plays off a handicap of ten, Rooney is no ordinary Joe Bloggs. When living in Avoca in Wicklow he joined Woodenbridge as a 13-year-old and played every summer with his family.

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John Rooney. Photo by Golffile

Since moving to Dublin in his later teenage years Rooney has been a member in Grange Golf Club which boasts three-time Ryder Cup winning player and 2014 winning captain Paul McGinley as its favourite son.

Flogas have been great for golf and golf has certainly returned the favour and the Galway native is delighted to see the Irish Amateur Open go ahead after the 2020 edition was cancelled alongside the famous Flogas Pro-Am which was also didn’t go ahead this year.

“We are very happy to sponsor this event,” he said. “We have done for six years and it gives us great exposure in the golfing community, but we also found that we are Golf Ireland’s official energy partner which allows us to give good competitive rates to members of golf clubs.

“It’s great to have the Flogas Irish Amateur on this year and great to have it at the European Club, it’s a real treat for the players and especially the overseas players who have heard so much about the place.

“Golf has been good to us. We have over 150 golf clubs as customers and then tens of thousands of members so we put something into golf and golf gives something back to Flogas so that’s how a good sponsorship should work.

“It was disappointing that the event couldn’t proceed (in 2020), but we still remained the official energy partner of Golf Ireland and we retained a few big members. We sponsor the Top Golfer Tour, we also sponsor Cormac Sharvin on the European Tour and that was important to him with the reduced prize funds, sponsorship is quite important to the young guys trying to make their way on Tour. We also sponsor the Irish Junior Open Series.

“We would like to continue sponsoring the event for years to come and people say we have been good for the game of golf in Ireland,” he smiled.

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Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) with John Rooney (MD Flogas)

Flogas are now synonymous with Irish golf thanks to their sponsorship across all levels of amateur golf from junior golf to elite amateur level. While they have also dipped their toe into the professional ranks with the Flogas Pro-Am, Rooney wasn’t satisfied and wanted to sponsor a budding young Irish professional looking to make his way in the game and after an opportunistic meeting with Cormac Sharvin’s uncle, Flogas pounced on the opportunity to help out one of the Walker Cup’s ‘Famous Five.’

It has been a perfect match with Sharvin eager to return the favour to Rooney and co when he isn’t taking to the fairways on the European Tour.

“Cormac’s uncle Brian Martin got in touch with me to say his nephew was turning pro just after the Walker Cup when the ‘Famous Five’ Irish lads all made the team. We were thinking it would be appropriate given our involvement in golf that it would be great to support a young aspiring professional.

“We are not necessarily looking to put the Flogas brand across the world, we just want to help a guy make his way on Tour. We knew Cormac was an up and coming professional making his way on the Challenge Tour. So we have been with him for a full five years, almost six.

“What we have said to Cormac that once he establishes himself if he warrants a higher sponsorship fee that’s fine with us and we will step aside and sponsor another budding Irish golfer. But right now with the reduced prize funds on the European Tour, he needs our support at the moment.

“In return, anytime he is available he plays rounds with customers, and they really enjoy meeting him,” he added.

Under the stewardship of John Rooney, Flogas are continuing to try and change the game, in terms of energy and gas solutions but also in the game of golf which they are arguably as well known given their long-time sponsorship from grass roots level all the way up to touring professional level and there is no sign of them stopping anytime soon with plans to sponsor another up and coming Irish professional in the future.

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