Over 1,000 people turned out to sunny north Cork this weekend, for the official opening of a state-of-the-art club facility and home grounds of Kilworth Celtic FC, the newly named Sheila Flynn Park.
The culmination of an over €600,000 investment and 25 years of hard work and fundraising, the Cork club’s base is named after the late Sheila Flynn, who generously bequeathed lands for Kilworth Celtic FC’s new home.
First founded in 1996 with 30 members, the soccer club is now 300 members strong and celebrated the grand opening of its new clubhouse and facility with a family fun day on Saturday – complete with kids blitz, crossbar and penalty challenges, and appearances from football stars Becky Cassin (Captain of Cork City Women’s FC), Danny Murphy (Manager), Sean Barron (Cobh Ramblers) Arthur Nganou (Midleton FC) and Matt Dunne (Carlow-Kilkenny FC UEFA/FAI Goalkeeping Coach).
Speaking at Saturday’s grand opening of the clubs new home, founding club member Kevin Wheeler said that the long road from the club’s foundation, to standing in Sheila Flynn Park, was a “fairytale story” to be proud of, that shows you should “never underestimate the power of community spirit”.
Tribute was paid to those who were key to the foundation of the club in the 1990’s - Tom Cotter and wider Cotter family, and founding members Sean Sheedy, Christopher Kearney, Liam Walsh and Kevin Wheeler – as well as subsequent club “visionaries” Kevin Howard, Diarmuid McCormack, Gus Shanahan, John Caplice and Dave Gill.
Mr Wheeler said.
“Today is only the beginning of the next stage of Sheila Flynn Park’s future,” he added, as the club hopes to further develop its facilities, and grow the playing base across all age groups, and especially in the Ladies section of the club.
“We look forward to seeing everyone back here soon to celebrate the next milestones in the clubs development,” he said.
The club's opening day also had a strong Defence Forces presence, as Comdt. Tadhg O’Donoghue highlighted the bonds between the Lynch Camp and local Kilworth community.
Saturday’s event featured a special appearance from the Defence Forces Band as well as an army Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle.
The Defence Forces Football Team ran out as 7-2 winners against Kilworth Celtic FC’s Senior team in a friendly match on the day, but Comdt. O’Donoghue assured KCFC Seniors that their quality opposition will have “greatly assisted” the Defence Forces team’s readiness for a fixture against the French Armed Forces in the coming weeks.
On Saturday KCFC also launched the KeeperKlub, a new national training programme for underage goalkeepers, the first of its kind in the country.
The programme will feature mentoring, training camps and instructional videos for aspiring underage keepers all over the country, both boys and girls.
Ex-Cobh Ramblers keeper and coach Andy O'Donoghue is the driving force behind the KeeperClub, and says it is a “great opportunity to provide the framework to help train the next generation of keepers”, adding that there has been a lack of good quality keeper training in Ireland over the years.