DRIPSEY GAA Club and their #smallclubhugeheart hashtag may have the support of Chris Kamara, but there is nothing “unbelievable” about their fundraising plans to help them purchase their pitch.
Since foundation a decade and a half ago, Dripsey have been renting at their current location of O’Brien’s Field and now the hope is buy that site and develop it further. To that end, while 2021 is currently devoid of games, there are four big fundraising projects scheduled.
Word has spread far and wide, with Kamara giving his backing, as outlined by Lisa O’Sullivan, who is involved in the fundraising effort.
“We’re lucky to have a great publicity team,” she says, “and one of them, Christine Naughton, chanced her arm and sent him a message.
“He came back and he did the video, no bother, which was really good of him. We had been using the hashtag for a few weeks before that and when he used it on the video, I said, ‘We’re sticking with that!’ because it sums up big-time what’s going on.” In order to take the next steps in terms of progressing, purchase is necessary.
“While the club has done a lot with it over the last number of years, there’s only so much you can do when it’s not your own property,” says Lisa, who is the daughter of legendary Urhan, Beara and Cork footballer Con Paddy O’Sullivan.
“The plan now is to buy it and develop it, build dressing rooms and a ball wall. Then, very importantly, resurface the pitch and move the goalposts back a bit so that, in front of it, there’ll be a pitch specifically for ladies’ football as well as the juvenile pitch and the main pitch.
“It’s a five-year plan, so it’s a big undertaking. This is the first year kicking it off, so there’s a long road ahead but it’s been going well so far.
“When the news came through that we might be in a position to buy the pitch, a call was put out and more than 50 volunteers came forward to form a fundraising group.
“We came up with four different ideas and divided up that way.” The first of those is the online bingo, with four alternating callers – ‘The Hunter Mike’ (Michael Hunt), ‘Banjo Jim’ (Jim O'Connell), ‘A Boy Named Sue’ (Billy Murphy) and ‘Spotter’ (Kieran Cotter).
“It’s doing very well, with people entering from as far away as Portugal, China and Canada,” Lisa says.
“Then, on April 24, we’re kicking off the Camino virtual challenge. The distance of the real camino is 245km over 40 days but it’s entirely up to people how much they want to do.
“They can set their own goal or pace and do it as families or individuals and walk, run or cycle.
“The big one, which we had to cancel last year, is the annual golf classic. All going well, that will be held in Macroom in August, depending on the restrictions, and we’d hope to confirm that once we know for definite.
“At the end of the year, then, there are hopes to hold a mega-draw and that’s being planned at the moment.” And, while obviously the club is hoping to do well from the fundraisers, Lisa makes the valid point that there is also a strong charitable element.
“Over the past few years, we’ve had fashion-show and game-show extravaganzas,” she says, “with proceeds going to Marymount and towards the pitch fund.
“For the camino, we’re working with a local charity, Dogs For The Disabled, as the founder Jennifer Dowler is from Dripsey.” There is also a weekly club lotto and the club have been delighted with the breadth of the support received.
“Absolutely,” Lisa says, “and not even just in the community – when we won the All-Ireland, the support we got from around the country was amazing.
“It still seems to be something that people are quite happy to support, which is brilliant.
“The club has had its ups and downs, on and off the pitch, but whenever we’ve tried to do something, the support has been brilliant.”
- For Dripsey’s online Sunday night bingo, contact Ann-Marie on 085-7708110 or email email@example.com. Registration for the Camino Challenge is now open at popupraces.ie/Dripsey or contact Eileen on 087-6679734. For the weekly club lotto, contact Gary O'Callaghan on 087-1487061.