FOUR years on since the terrifying incident in which sinkholes tore through their pitch and facilities, Monaghan club Magheracloone are targeting hosting a Championship game on home ground.
The Monaghan Championship begins in August, and the local Mitchells club are hopeful that their new Prunty Pitch and changing facilities will all be signed off by health and safety in time to host a home game in the group stages.
The club were left devastated when an old mine on their land partially collapsed in September 2018, leaving them without a venue to train or play.
In the meantime, the club have come to an arrangement with Gyproc, the Irish plaster and plasterboard company, who intend to use the old site for open-cast mining.
The club have then secured land across the road and 500 metres away where they have created a brand-new pitch and have erected changing facilities.
Our new development 🙌— Magheracloone GAA (@MitchellsGAA_) May 11, 2022
Exciting times ahead for the Club and Parish
Thank you to Una Murray for the amazing drone footage 📷 pic.twitter.com/Q5jrm8jG4D
Explaining how they have navigated their way from a situation where Gaelic Games in Magheracloone was in peril, to the exciting new developments afoot, Chairman of the club Francis Jones explained: “We did it with Gyproc in two phases; the first phase is progressing well but we are still awaiting planning permission for the second phase, which is for them to do what they want with it.
“But we have to have our planning permission got on our facilities up and running.”
He continued: “We have the full design for all the works, but split it into phases. Obviously, we had no home pitch, so we wanted to get one pitch done and a set of dressing rooms, that we could play home games in.
“Phase One is well on the way to completion and hopefully by August and September we will be playing on it.
“So we have done that, and now we have planning permission in with the council for Phase Two. It’s a bigger development so it is going to take longer. That is for more dressing rooms, more pitches, sports hall, function room, that sort of thing. A full development with an astroturf pitch as well.”
While they were without a home, Magheracloone eseentially had to become nomads, moving all around the county to get venues for training and playing in.
It’s been a humbling experience for all at the club, according to Jones.
“Oh yeah, the generosity of our neighbouring clubs is just… I suppose we talk about the GAA family, but it is definitely so. They have come to the fore when we needed it,” he said.
“And it still is the case, clubs have very much helped us out. And they have all their own teams and every pitch is busy, but they have given their pitches when they can.”
At times, they have had to go outside of the county, playing a number of games regularly at Louth club, Annaghminnon.
The club have also been hampered in the usual fundraising efforts that every club have to do in order to keep the show on the road. However, right now they are doing a club fundraiser and selling tickets to keep their revenue streams open.
In the coming months and certainly by the end of the summer, they are hoping to have Phase Two of the construction works underway.
In the meantime, it will be an emotional moment to play games on their home turf again.
“We hope to play in August or September. The Championship starts in Monaghan in August, maybe after yesterday it will be played a lot sooner!” said Jones with some black humour after the demise of the county senior team in their Ulster semi-final defeat to Derry.
“But we get two home games and we would love to play some of our home games there. That’s our plan.”