Ballincollig GAA club push forward with ambitious upgrade in challenging times

Ballincollig GAA club push forward with ambitious upgrade in challenging times
U11 player Jack Costello clears the ball downfield in the Joe Delaney Cup in Ballincollig last summer. The club are waiting to restart activity again when given the all-clear by the GAA.

WHILE most pitches across the county lie silent with GAA on hold until July 20, Ballincollig are pressing ahead with a major redevelopment. 

As part of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, Hourihan Sportsfield Developments were permitted to return to work on an all-weather training surface. They’ll progress later this summer to installing a second floodlit sand-based pitch at the club complex.

Shane Murphy, Ballincollig, battling Denis Coghlan, Courcey Rovers. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Shane Murphy, Ballincollig, battling Denis Coghlan, Courcey Rovers. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Despite the uncertainty across every area of sport, Ballincollig chairman Dave Walsh prefers to stay positive. Financing the most ambitious upgrade of the club since the modern complex began to take shape in 1981 will be tricky of course. 

Walsh believes they are fortunate to have a driven development committed headed up by Seamus O’Brien, whose son Michael led the footballers to a breakthrough senior county in 2014.

Seamus O'Brien, left, with sponsors, Marian Nugent, Muskerry Golf Club and Garrett Harrington, Harrington's Pharmacy at the launch of Who Wants to be a Thousandaire?. Picture: Mike English
Seamus O'Brien, left, with sponsors, Marian Nugent, Muskerry Golf Club and Garrett Harrington, Harrington's Pharmacy at the launch of Who Wants to be a Thousandaire?. Picture: Mike English

“Every sport, charities, businesses are facing into a very difficult period but we are three years down the road of this plan so the committee felt it was important to see it through,” explained Walsh.

Revenue streams like the Golf Classic, the Belle of Ballincollig Festival, the juvenile collection and teenage discos, which were revived by Derry O’Connor and Martin O’Sullivan and have been a huge success in recent years, are all on hold. The club bar is currently shut and they've been forced to cancel the annual Cúl Camp. Sports capital grants will undoubtedly be a challenge in an altered sporting landscape.

Ballincollig's primary sponsor is Quish's SuperValu, included here are club chairman Dave Walsh, Cormac Quish, Colm Kelleher, Patrick Kelly, Liam Jennings and Conor Sexton. Picture: Mike English
Ballincollig's primary sponsor is Quish's SuperValu, included here are club chairman Dave Walsh, Cormac Quish, Colm Kelleher, Patrick Kelly, Liam Jennings and Conor Sexton. Picture: Mike English

“It would be easy to be negative but that’s not how we’re approaching this,” he said. “The goodwill in Ballincollig is incredible really. We held a ‘Who Wants to be a Thousandaire’ event last winter and the backing we got from the local businesses was amazing. We’ll be urging all our club members to support local as we get back on our feet.

“The club lotto is available again online and that was vital for us. It’s working well”

Chairman David Walsh at An Camann Tae coffee dock in association with Ballincollig GAA. Picture: David Keane.
Chairman David Walsh at An Camann Tae coffee dock in association with Ballincollig GAA. Picture: David Keane.

The Collig motto is ‘Up the Village’, tracing the club to its roots as a small hamlet on the outskirts of the Cork that punched about its weight when competing for the senior titles in the 1940s. At this stage, there are over 1,300 members and a playing body of 1,000 between the male and female sections.

“The reality is our club population is greater than some villages but that brings its own challenges. The current committee was put in a very strong position by previous groups, loans had been cleared and it allowed us to be ambitious. 

Work is in progress on the new all-weather pitch. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Work is in progress on the new all-weather pitch. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

"Raising €1 million isn’t an easy task.

“And we have to be looking even further into the future and that will mean providing a proper gym and better changing room facilities. This is the start of something and we’re staying positive even in a very strange time.”

Éanna Hurney, Éanna Lynch, Eoin Harris, Evan Stack, Shay O’Brien and Liam Harris at the annual Ballincollig poc fada. Picture: Dan Linehan
Éanna Hurney, Éanna Lynch, Eoin Harris, Evan Stack, Shay O’Brien and Liam Harris at the annual Ballincollig poc fada. Picture: Dan Linehan

Only the grounds staff of John Purcell, Billy Fitton and Pat O’Reilly were able to access the club at the height of the lockdown. Still, the club used social media channels to stay engaged.

“We had 10 weeks of skills videos that started off with Cian Kiely and Cian Dorgan and have since involved a lot of senior players. They’ve broken 70,000 views. With the new dynamic that kept some structure for kids to have.

“If you’re standing still people will pass you out. When it’s safe to return, I think we’re ready as a club to stay on the front foot.”

The pitch at Ballincollig GAA club will be ready soon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
The pitch at Ballincollig GAA club will be ready soon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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