'There is no hiding place for Kiskeam people, when it comes to looking for support for the GAA club'

Huge drive for Rebels Bounty draw spreads across the globe for much needed funds to keep the senior football club on the go
'There is no hiding place for Kiskeam people, when it comes to looking for support for the GAA club'

Kiskeam GAA club celebrated winning first prize in the county board draw in 2008. Included is  Draw co-ordinator Donie Cronin holding the €20,000 cheque.

WHEN it comes to tracking down former members, Kiskeam’s Donie Cronin is like a Canadian Mounty because he always gets his man.

The small rural club in the north-west of the county has only a population of about 500 and yet it’s on target to sell at least half that number in the Rebels Bounty draw.

“We contact people who’ve moved abroad to America, Australia, Europe and England.

“They are not forgotten at all even though some would probably be cursing us, when they see the letter or email arriving. 

"There is no hiding place,” Cronin joked.

Kiskeam consider themselves a lucky club, when it comes to county board draws over the years, most notably in 2008.

“That was our biggest win, when the club itself had a ticket which won the first prize of €20,000.

“And we also had our other big wins, like €5,000 and €1,000, as well as various other prizes, too.

“Put it this way there was no year, when we didn’t have prize winners.

“And that was great because it didn’t give people the excuse of not entering.”

Before moving from the red into the black, Kiskeam had to hit 100 ticket sales at €100 a pop to meet the board’s €10k stipulation.

Many would consider it a daunting challenge for a club with such a small catchment area, but Cronin made light of it.

“It wasn’t a problem for us because when we did the maths we had 228 members in last year’s draw, which brought in €10,540 profit.

“So, if we maintained that number this year it would bring in €12,800, an increase of roughly €2,300.

“At the moment we’re targeting 250-260 members so if we got to 250, we’d bring in €15,000.

“At this stage there’s probably no house that hasn’t got a letter at some stage.

“It carries on from one year to the next. I’m at this now 17 years, the co-ordinator all the time, and sure isn’t there great pay in it, joking of course.

“We have a team of 20 sellers and the majority of them have been involved for years though we’ve blooded a few more this time.”

Kiskeam operate independently at senior, junior A and U21, but joined forces with Ballydesmond in the lower age-groups, known as Sliabh Luachra Gaels.

“That’s an indication that our numbers are getting slack. We started it at U16 and now it’s gone to minor.

“Both clubs would be struggling for young players, but Kiskeam is just one of many clubs doing that. It makes sense.

Covid restrictions meant sellers couldn’t knock on doors as in the past, but its effects haven’t been felt by the club.

Now it’s the new way of communicating, texting and emailing as well as the old fashioned letter.

“We sent one around to each house this year. In the past the county board would have done that. So far it’s working well.

“When I started it was only the biro and the green cards, but I had to adjust and now I do it online. It’s working out better than I thought it would.

“Once I got used to using the computer, sure it’s no problem now.

“Broadband isn’t great up around here and there are times, when I’d have to move up the road to my son’s house to get a better connection. It’s good in patches and bad in other places.

“There seems to be more money around because I suppose people aren’t spending it in the pubs and the like.

“We suspended our club lotto about 12 months ago.

“We emphasised in the letter that it was only €1.93 a week, when you break it down, and yet the bulk of the money has been paid in full. We’ve about 12 direct debits at €10 a month.

“It’s a great take up and shows us the support we know is there for the club, which is the hub of life up here really.

“Everything is run in the community centre, which belongs to the GAA club and we’ve everything from funerals to card playing. As the fella said ‘you start and you finish there.’

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