Churchtown GAA’s dream comes to fruition

On Sunday, the Churchtown GAA club in north Cork will open a €1.25m development, a 5,500 square foot indoor sports hall, with GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail in attendance.

Churchtown GAA club treasurer Niall O'Shea, left, chairman Tony O'Flaherty, centre, and secretary Pat O'Driscoll. Picture: Larry Cummins

It’s the culmination of three decades of work for the club, says chairman Tony O’Flaherty.

“The club purchased 11 acres back in 1987, that was the beginning of it,” says O’Flaherty.

“We’ve carried out a lot of work since then — we levelled, drained and fenced the main pitch to a high standard, developed a car park and viewing embankments, created a separate training pitch and constructed two dressing rooms, a club meeting room, a referees’ room and public toilets under a 500-spectator viewing area.”

They didn’t stop there.

Churchtown also created a walkway around the main pitch, erected a limestone public sculpture, roofed the sports stand, floodlit the training pitch, built a hurling wall, facilitated the development of a children’s playground for the parish and now, finally, the astro-turf indoor sports hall, the Halla 100, which is being opened officially at the weekend.

“It’s named to commemorate Easter 1916,” says O’Flaherty of the new hall. “It was completed late last year.”

It’s a fair achievement, building a hall for €1.25m in the current climate.

“We’ve had a lot of fundraisers over the years,” O’Flaherty adds.

“People might remember we raffled a house back in 2006, for instance. The club bought a house in a nearby housing estate and we sold tickets for that or €150,000 in cash — €100 for a ticket, and we sold nearly 5,000 tickets. I sold the winning ticket, actually, to John O’Flynn from Freemount. I think he took the house rather than the cash. That was a big success.

Pics: Larry Cummins

“Once you took the costs out of it we cleared — the house itself, for instance — we cleared quarter of a million euro, that was a huge help. But everybody put in a massive effort to make it succeed.

“Along with sports development grants, help from FÁS and from the community, we got over the line. We’re a typical rural GAA club, we have a hard core of members and they threw their shoulders to the wheel, and the community rowed in behind us.

“Being honest, we’re the lucky ones. We get to open the facility at the weekend, but we’re very mindful of the lads who bought the field 30 years ago. It’s for them, and we’re conscious of what they did all the way along.

“All those guys had the vision and the drive to do that and set us on the road.

“I’d have to mention Liscarroll as well. Since 2011, we’ve combined to field one hurling team, playing as Churchtown, and one football team, playing as Liscarroll and since 2003 we’ve combined to play up to minor level as Granard Gaels, that’s been very beneficial to both clubs, and they’ve been hugely supportive of the hall as well.”

The facility is already being used, O’Flaherty adds.

“It’s been very busy since October, and really it’s only slackened off since the hour changed last weekend, lads want to get back on the field, obviously.”

Ceremonies begin Sunday with mass at 11.30am in St Nicholas’ church, with the GAA president in attendance at the opening ceremony at 1.45 pm.

That will be followed by a game between the Cork and Limerick intermediate hurlers following at 3pm

A special memorial evening with Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh will be held to remember the life and career of Kerry GAA legend John Egan in Reardens bar in Cork on April 10.

The reception will take place after a special 1916 exhibition hurling match at the Mardyke between Cork and Tipperary teams who will don vintage jerseys while playing with 1916 replica hurleys. The throw in for the hurling game is at 3pm at the Mardyke, with the John Egan memorial commencing after the match in Reardens Bar, Washington Street at 5.30pm, with free admission to both events.

For more information log onto www.reardens.com or email info@reardens.com

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