Just seven years after coming into existence, Laochra Óg are looking to break ground on what they hope will be their new home.
The club, which caters for hurling and camogie across the hinterland of Macroom, Clondrohid, Baile Bhúirne, Cill na Martra and Coolea, have plans for the development of a new 8.3-acre plot at Ballymacorcoran, Clondrohid, which has been leased for 30 years. Club chairman John Nash believes that establishing a permanent centre will be of huge benefit.
“The plan is to have a full-size pitch, a training pitch, a ball-wall and dressing rooms,” he says.
“If we can just get the first section started, within the next five years you’d hopefully be looking at having the whole thing finished.
“We cover nine national schools and three secondary schools in the five parishes and we’ve gone from nothing, really.
“Where we are now at the moment in Teerbeg, Michael and Nora McCarthy gave us that field right at the start.
“We’ve gone from that to a situation where on a Wednesday night you’ve 60 kids there and then maybe another 30 on a Thursday night, and then we play our home games on the pitch at Coláiste Ghobnatán in Baile Bhúirne.”
While the west Muskerry region is heavily steeped in football, the success of Laochra Óg is proof of how a dedication to hurling can generate results.
“There would have been a small bit of sporadic hurling in Clondrohid,” Nash says.
“If you go from the top of the county bounds right down to Cloughduv and Aghabullogue, there was no hurling, so we’re covering a huge area.
“Guys would have had young lads playing with Cloughduv and they saw the potential.
“We have a junior B team and it can be hard to field but we’re waiting for the younger lads to come up.
“We have lads who were involved in hurling all their lives. Liam Slattery is from Tipperary and he’s one of the main man, he was chairman at the start and he has done Trojan work.
“You had a mixture of people in the area who were interested in hurling and then hurling people who moved into the area and they both blended together.”
The incremental progress since then has brought them to the current situation and the plans for the new facility.
“The first year or two years were just about getting the club off the ground,” Nash says.
“Then you see the numbers that have come through and the work that has gone in, it was the next step.
“We got to the stage where we have to get our own pitch because we have so many numbers now and it cements the whole thing – our motto is ‘Here to play and here to stay,’ and having our own pitch is an example of that.
“We’ve a sports grant application put in and, if we get that, we can start off; if we don’t, we’re back to fundraising.
“If we were to get the grant, it would be a huge boost, it would make all the difference, really.
“You go to other clubs and you’d be looking for matches and they say, ‘Oh, we’ll see if there’s a pitch available,’ and they’d have four or five of them.
“You’d hear about Field of Dreams, we dream of a field.”
The Drive-in Bingo night at Cork Showgrounds in Curraheen on June 27 will provide some fundraising revenue for the club and otherwise it’s a case of building on what has been achieved up to now. Having held a first summer cap in 2015, attracting 60 children, by 2019 that figure had swelled.
“We did a three-day camp and we had 163 kids at it,” Nash says.
“What we did with the U14s and U16s was we mixed the two groups and we had outside speakers come in.
“We had Martin Fogarty and people from Jigsaw came to talk about mental health and local gardaí came to speak to them, Rena Buckley came to discuss injury-prevention, so we had off-field stuff as well, covering health and wellbeing.
“It was a huge success and obviously Covid knocked us back but we’re flying again this year.”