JASON Collins will combine a playing and administrative role with the St Mary’s GAA Club this season following his recent election as chairman of the Ballineen and Enniskeane based club.
At only 29-years of age, Jason is one of the youngest chairmen of a GAA club in Cork and an active dual player
“It’s a great honour. I have played with the club since U8 level so I felt it was time to give back. The club and community have really got behind me since I was appointed. It is essential that more people get involved and help out to keep the club moving forward.”
Jason previously served as the vice-chairman and when the chairperson role became vacant, he was delighted to be approached.
“I had always displayed an interest in the club activities down through the years. Before Christmas, I was asked if I’d be interested in taking on the role.
“I was working a lot in Dublin last year and I found it hard to get involved in club matters. Most meetings are now held online so I can do them from anywhere in the country.
We have a great community in our small villages of Ballineen and Enniskeane.
“I want to get as many people as possible participating in a great club like St Mary’s be it supporting, playing or acting as mentors. I will learn a lot this year. Mistakes will be made and that’s all a part of it.
"I just hope when I leave the position I can say I gave it my all. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
St Mary’s have a very young and progressive executive board keen to drive them on to success, both on and off the pitch.
Jason and the players have filled officer roles which has ensured a huge injection of youthful energy on to their committee. The new chairman is delighted with the addition of so many new faces.
“It is absolutely brilliant for the club. I think every club needs a blend of youth and experience in their committee.
“I always believe a club constantly needs a new mindset to try and bring in fresh fundraising ideas, but it’s great to also have the guidance from the more seasoned members.
“Almost half our committee are aged 30 or under, so I’m hoping we are getting the right mix. The club has always been there for every one of us. The GAA plays a big part in many households so its brilliant to be able to give back.”
Collins, who has enjoyed a very strong career with his beloved Saints, CIT and with the Cork junior footballers, plans to line out in both codes as well as holding down an administrative role.
“I aim to continue playing for the coming year. I’ll play hurling and football for St Mary’s for as long as possible. My main goals for the coming year are to build on the community spirit.
“Our aim is to try and get as many people as possible involved in the club, be it in fundraisers or getting more support behind the teams. Last year was a tough year with regards to the finances and as a result, we have an uphill battle to get the club back on stable ground.
“My main aim is to have a structured fundraising strategy in place for the coming year. We have a brilliant team who I hope to work with closely to bring new ideas to support the club and ensure its future survival.”
The new chairman has very specific goals with regards to growing the membership and improving their facilities also during his tenure.
“Like most rural clubs we are under immense financial pressure. We will be looking for help throughout the year to stay afloat. Our aim is to ensure the club is in a strong place going forward. We have amazing facilities and possess one of the best pitches in Cork.
“One objective is to install a hurling wall in the new pitch to develop the skills of all our players. Playing numbers are tight and it is important to maintain all our players.
“Our underage system is an amalgamation of ourselves and neighbours Diarmuid Ó Mathúna called Ahan Gael. We will continue to work with Diarmuid Ó Mathúna to make sure that we improve the skillset of our underage players.
“We have a great sub-committee established for the underage players from U10 down which is under the guidance of Ger Long.”
The St Mary’s junior A football and hurling teams are always very competitive in the Carbery division. Their hurlers were defeated in the divisional championship final last season.
We contested our first junior A hurling final in over 30 years last season.
"We hope to build on that for the coming year. We have a really young team and hopefully, last year will stand to them.
“We have a new trainer in Daniel Twomey from Newcestown who will be a big addition. We have always been competitive in the football championship and we need to push on to the business end this year.
“Conor Condon from Newcestown will again take charge of footballers for the coming season. The future is bright for the club, both on and off the pitch."