BANDON GAA Club is commemorating two huge moments in their club history over the coming months.
The Carbery divisional club will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of General Charlie Hurley who was killed on March 19, 1921, in the fight for Irish Independence.
The Bandon GAA club grounds are named in memory of the local patriot who coincidentally died on his 29th birthday. The club is also due to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of their club grounds which took place on May 16, 1971.
To coincide with these two pivotal events in their club history, the club is releasing a limited edition of a commemorative club jersey which will have yellow stripes on a white background to signify The Lillywhites, the club nickname.
The jersey will also incorporate Charlie Hurley’s image on the front of the jersey, the club gates on the back of the jersey as well as the traditional club name and the club crest.
Bandon GAA chairman Ian Doyle is pleased the club is able to celebrate these two seismic achievements.
"We were looking at a number of events, but due to the pandemic, these were all put on hold.
"We were determined to mark these two huge occasions, however, so we have decided to release a commemorative club jersey that people can wear with pride. We touched base with Charlie Hurley’s family as we had to use his image on the jersey and they were a great support.
"We are using the picture of the gates on the back of this jersey to signify reaching the 50th anniversary since the official opening of the club grounds.
"It was decided to call the club grounds after Charlie Hurley due to his legacy and his status in the local community. These two events were huge moments in the history of our club. We felt it was only right to mark these very significant moments."
Bandon GAA Club bought their current club grounds in 1953. They purchased 13.5 acres for 80 old pounds.
The first game which was played in their new club grounds took place in May 1957 when a senior match and a minor game were played. In 1969, the progressive club purchased more land when they bought an abandoned railway line adjacent to the club grounds which was acquired for 20 pounds.
The foresight the original trustees showed in those days has been justifiably rewarded by various club officers since who have carried on the tradition of providing state-of-the-art facilities at the West Cork venue.
The club currently has two pitches, which include the main pitch that plays host to a number of championship games on an annual basis.
Their top pitch has lights and has a sand-based pitch. The strong dual club also has a ball alley and an astro-turf. They also have a small training pitch which has lights which all their various teams can use for training purposes.
The club also boost a pavilion that encompasses a gym for all club members. It also holds four dressing rooms. The club chairman is very proud of their facilities which they hope to add to this year.
"We hope to complete a few jobs this year. We have to remove all the old wire fence on the main pitch and replace it with fixed permanent wire.
"We also hope to upgrade our existing dressing rooms this year. We also have planning permission for a seating area overlooking the pitch. That is just a case of organising funding and getting everything else in order.
"The club pavilion which was first opened in 1978 was a great addition and is a huge resource to the club. We have given the club pavilion a good overhaul in recent years and it is currently in great nick.”
Bandon town and its local environs is a rapidly growing area. The chairman recogises that it is vitally important to provide top facilities to entice the young generation to keep playing GAA with Bandon.
“We have to provide brilliant facilities and coaching for our current and future players. It is vital we keep progressing to ensure our players can develop accordingly.
"We have about 550 members between the adult and underage sections. The camogie club started up in 2017 and they have around 130 members. The ladies footballers currently have 150 club members.
"The ladies footballers and camogie teams have been a great addition. They are thriving.
"We are very fortunate that we have a very good relationship with all the local schools, both primary and secondary. We are all about providing for the community. We also work well with the local rugby and soccer club.”
Doyle is looking forward to a bright future for Bandon GAA.
“As a dual club, we always have challenges. It is tough but great to be playing senior football and hurling. Communication is key for a strong dual club.
"We have been developing underage in recent years. Player participation is huge for us.
"Our underage teams are playing at a high standard in all grades. We have a strong committee and facilities.
" The future is bright.”