The acquisition of 13 acres of land by Bride Rovers represents major step towards the club’s long-term development plan.
A deal was recently agreed with the Pyne family for the transfer of two fields, one of which had already been used by the East Cork club on a rental basis. Club chairman Ger Lane is delighted to have completed the switch, augmenting the land available to them in addition to their home at Páirc na Bríde in Rathcormac.
“It was something we had wanted to do with a while,” he says.
“In 2019, we were hoping to purchase land and it didn’t happen for us, so we were on the lookout since then.
“Pat Pyne and his family have a long association with the club and we were renting a field from Pat for a number of years. We played juvenile games there and various other matches and it was used for training.
“We had that rented from him and then, when that other deal didn’t materialise, myself and Pa O’Driscoll the vice-chairman were in contact with Pat about this and he was very willing to talk to us.
“It basically came to head in the last few months. He was gifting us one field, the one we were using, which is six acres. Then there’s a field right next to it and we were looking for seven acres of that so that we’d have a combined total of 13 acres next to each other, two fields side by side.
“It’s only a half a mile from our own grounds and we’re in and out of there anyway with the juveniles and we’ve played junior football league games there.
“It’s home from home really, as such.
In time, proper facilities will be added to the grounds, though of course any such development will come on a phase-by-phase basis.
“That would be very long-term,” Lane says.
“Initially, what we want to have is two more playing pitches there. We’ll do that first and, with 13 acres there, there’ll be plenty of room for development. Parking will be needed and, long-term, we’ll have to have toilets and dressing rooms there.
“The first thing will be to get the two fields into proper pitches so that we can have senior league games there.
“We would hope to have floodlights on one of the pitches too, but we’re talking about a lot of money. We’ll be a hundred years old in 2028, so the plan was to have top-class facilities by then.
“We’ve done a lot of work on our own field, we bought a juvenile field next to it three years ago and we’ve developed that now.
“We have ten acres where we are presently and 13 outside, so we’ll have 23 acres under pitches, which is a lot of ground.”
The need for extra floorspace is a testament to the growth of the parish in recent times, underlined by the population explosion.
“Officially, we’re almost classed as a town,” Lane says, “we’ve around 3,000 people living in the parish.
“We’ve over 400 children in Rathcormac National School and I would imagine that there is between 150 and 200 in Bartlemy.
“We are planning and developing with a few years but if you don’t have the land, you’ve nothing, you can’t plan dressing rooms or floodlit pitches or anything like that.
“We’ve spent a lot of money on our own grounds, between purchasing the three acres, putting in new astroturf and building new embankments and putting up new fencing. We’ve revamped the whole place over the last few years.
“We basically have our home pitch the way we want it now and developing the two new pitches will give us more space out there. Having it so close to our own pitch is worth a lot.
“We could have purchased land elsewhere but having it right within the village was important, it’s super having it so close.”
To have the new land secured in the current climate is a bonus, though the light at the end of the tunnel is welcome.
“I think we’ve adapted well,” Lane says.
“At the beginning it was very awkward, our grounds were closed and we adhered very much to the Covid policies and all of that, everybody was very compliant.
“We’ve got used to it now, but definitely it was very challenging. It’s great now to have things open and the kids back, but people are still very conscious of it, wearing masks, social distancing and the whole lot.
“I think it’ll take time to get out of that whole atmosphere, but things are improving.”