A BIT like the pub with no beer, there can be something of an existential for sports clubs when there are no games to be played.
However, if Lockdowns I, II and III have shown us anything positive, it is the strength that comes from a sense of community and GAA clubs around Cork and the wider country have been to the fore in that regard.
During the first enforced period of downtime, Randal Óg GAA Club, along with Ballinacarriga Lisbealad Community Association, organised a very successful fundraiser for Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation and Cancer Connect West Cork.
These two charities were chosen as a number of club members provide voluntary service as nurses and drivers with them. Randal Óg Hurley Castle in the centre of Ballinacarriga, was lit up throughout the June bank holiday weekend with candles and nightlights purchased by the wonderful wider community in West Cork.
On top of that, the club has become a busy Covid-19 testing centre in West Cork.
They were delighted to be able to provide Ballinacarriga Hall as a local Covid Swab Clinic for the HSE. It was very gratifying for the club to read Dr Emer Shanley’s article in West Cork monthly magazine The Opinion, where she thanked the ‘amazing community of Ballinacarriga and the Randal Óg GAA Club who generously handed over their facilities at very short notice’.
Of course, in between the first and second lockdowns, there were more than a few games played and West Cork club Randal Óg enjoyed success with victory in the Carbery JBHC final, defeating Kilbrittain.
What made it all the more special for club members was to see legendary veteran John Collins lift the Walsh Cup in Ahiohill. John was a member of the Randals team that had won the same title in 1992 and he had seven nephews on this team – Eoghan O’Donovan, Liam O’Donovan, Conor O’Neill, Collins, Séamus Crowley, Cian O’Neill and Peter Collins.
Another club making good use of the on-pitch inactivity was Inniscarra.
In 2017, a five-year was conceived and 2020 was initially supposed to take in the development of the clubhouse but, with a greenfield adjacent to the club coming available, it was decided to go with this instead.
It will cater to large numbers who are continuously requesting pitch-time for training, challenge games and either league or championship games.
With 18 teams from U6-minor, U21 hurling and football, three adult hurling teams (premier intermediate, junior A and junior B) and adult football (junior A and junior B), catering for every team with pitch-time can prove very difficult. There is also a thriving camogie section.
Development started in early 2020 and, just before the first lockdown, with weather in their favour, the topsoil and seed were sown. After a few weeks and months, there was plenty of green grass again.
The next step was to get ball-stop nets, goalposts and the surrounding fence completed. Developers arrived on-site end of August and installed the ball-stop nets and a week later the new goalposts were installed.
The surrounding fence was purchased and was erected voluntarily by the super members, who are giving up their time on Saturdays or Sundays to get the final phase of the works completed.
Inniscarra look forward to having this new pitch available in early 2021 with the commencement of training and the leagues for the new season.
Funding for these works continues to be raised on a yearly basis through membership and the weekly lottery.