Fr O’Neill’s club is heading in the right direction despite narrow final loss

Fr O’Neill’s club is heading in the right direction despite narrow final loss

Michael O’Flynn, Charleville, looking to block the breaking Liam O’Driscoll, Fr O’Neill’s during the Co-Op Superstores SAHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Dan Linehan

FR O’NEILL’S might have suffered understandable disappointment in a narrow Co-Op Superstores Senior A Hurling final loss to Charleville but the East Cork club is in a really good place.

County titles at Premier Intermediate, Intermediate, Junior, Premier U21, and Premier Minor have been collected in what is a golden age for the hurlers in the Ballymacoda-Ladysbridge parish.

The ambition now is to match that off the field, as they has recently commenced development work on a new playing pitch. This will complement the fine facilities that already exist as part of the community complex at Aghavine.

Club PRO Seamus Joyce confirms that plans are on course to have matches on the new surface by spring 2022.

“A lot of work has been completed over the past few months. The ground is now prepared and ready for planting in the new year at which point we will continue the process outlined by the contractors as the grass will be given adequate time to grow and mature.

“At this stage it looks as the first few months of spring 2022 is realistic target to see the first sliotars being pucked on the new surface. The new pitch will be fully fenced in with a spectator bank on one side.

“Currently we are financing the venture through a five-year development draw, together with both existing club funds and a loan.”

There is no denying the club will welcome this extra playing and training space as it’s membership has soared in recent years.

Success breeds success with the juvenile section of the club also in a very strong state and many of the younger brigade striving to follow in the footsteps of their heroes who have rewritten the history books since the turn of the millennium.

It’s a far cry from previous generations who wore the green and red of what was then a junior B club back in the ‘70s. Progress was massive at the end of the ‘90s when the team made the major breakthrough at junior A in East Cork.

The winning sequence reached a peak at this level in spring 2006 as the club won the All-Ireland title in Croke Park.

Since then a brace of Premier Minor titles, two Intermediate counties, the 2018 Premier U21 crown and last year’s county and Munster Intermediate trophy have found their way to the club cabinet.

More recently, they were pipped by a point in the All-Ireland club decider and suffered a similarly harrowing defeat to Charleville. Yet this year will also be recalled on a brighter note; the seeds were sown on a pitch that will be graced for years to come by the players from a club that is sure to continue its upward spiral.

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