Pitch perfect — Club given home of its own

MEMBERS of a thriving camogie club are celebrating after a generous local businessman presented them with their very own “field of dreams”.

Motor dealer John Walsh has spent the last few years developing the pitch and dressings rooms near Half Way in Ballinhassig, Co Cork.

And he officially handed the facility over to Ballinhassig Camogie Club at a gala event on Saturday afternoon.

His kind-hearted gesture makes Ballinhassig just the second camogie club in Cork to have its own dedicated playing pitch.

Inniscarra, which has an impressive facility at Ballyanly, is the only other camogie club affiliated to the Cork County Camogie Board with its own pitch.

Chairwoman of Ballinhassig Camogie Club, Angela Murphy described it as an “historic day”.

“We are just so grateful and thankful to John Walsh and his family. It’s just a dream come true for us.

“No expense has been spared. The dressing rooms are wonderful, they are heated and very large, you could have a meeting in them.

“And they are very feminine. They are even decked out in our club colours: blue and white.

“It is just so fantastic that the girls can go down to the pitch and play whenever they want.”

Ballinhassig Camogie Club was founded in 1987 by Mary Crowley, Marian Fleming, Bernadette O’Halloran and Frank Lynch. Today, it has over 160 members.

It has been relying on the GAA club’s pitch for training and games. But because of the huge demand on that pitch, the camogie club didn’t always get to use it when it suited.

But not anymore.

Mr Walsh, who founded his family-run Walsh Traders motor sales business in Ballinhassig, has spent the last few years developing the pitch near his business premises in Ballyhooleen Lower.

He bought the site in 2007 and oversaw its reclamation, drainage, and in-fill. The site was developed by Michael Ahern and Dan Lane.

And on Saturday, he threw a huge party to mark the official handing over of Walsh Park to the camogie club.

An underage blitz was the first event played on its perfect surface.

Ms Murphy praised several people who had been involved in the project over the years, including club official Ann Dorney, local county councillor Kevin Murphy, who offered support and advice during the planning process, and Garda Superintendent Con Cadogan.

“It’s absolutely tremendous to have this pitch now because there are so many kids involved in the sport. It takes the pressure off the main pitch too,” Ms Murphy said.

Ballinhassig GAA Club is working on plans to develop another pitch, while the Cork County Camogie Board is also about to embark on a fundraising drive to fund the construction of new dressing rooms which have secured planning permission at the Castle Road pitch complex in Mahon.

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