WHILE some people put their feet up when retired and rightly so, Sean and Joan Lynch from Innishannon became busier than ever, with football to the forefront of their lives.
Sean a retired teacher and Joan, retired from the hotel industry, have been heavily involved with their beloved Inishannon for over 40 years and have experienced many roles during their time, including Sean managing the junior team for almost 20 years.
They are now enjoying their current roles as committee members, Joan assisted the treasurer and up to recently, Sean was the secretary, so now both help in any way they can.
Huge soccer fans in general, and loyal supporters of the international soccer team, the Innishannon couple got involved in soccer in the 80s and although they don’t have a family of their own, they believe soccer is a great substitute.
“Myself and Joan got involved with soccer in 1980 while managing the Woodview Bar in Innishannon and we’ve been hooked since really,” said Sean. “That year the soccer club was re-established (playing as Innishannon AFC) and I took on the role of secretary while Joan helped with the finances, washing jerseys, etc.
“I also played on our junior team which was a team of mostly local friends and although we had very little success, it was great fun. Sport has always been a big part of our lives, we don’t have a family but the soccer club has been a great substitute.”
Throughout the years they have dedicated so much of their time to the club and they have experienced many highs and lows to which have given them some great memories. But to see the club grow in membership has given them a great sense of pride.
“We have enjoyed over four decades with this great club. We have had some great victories over the years. Our first big win was the President’s Cup in 1997.
“In 2005 the club decided to change its name to Innishvilla at schoolboys level with the plan to have the full club under that name three years later. The new name was to incorporate the full parish of Innishannon and Knockavilla.
“Our greatest victory was winning the AOH Cup in 2017. The club has expanded dramatically since and now has teams competing at all ages from nine years upwards, both girls and boys. There are two teams at some ages. We also have two youths and adult teams.”
The club bought seven acres of land in 2007 and now has two full pitches plus a new astro-turf training ground. This caters for the huge number of children in the club academy.
“Although myself and Joan have done trojan work over the years, it has to be said that chairman Noel Ryan has been the main man behind the club’s development.
It hasn’t always been easy to keep a soccer club up and running in a GAA dominant parish so great credit to him.
“Soccer has always been the minority sport in our area and it’s difficult at times to compete with the GAA. However we are very fortunate to have great support in the community. We offer the only other sporting facilities and that is appreciated by many. The last few years has seen a big increase in numbers from the Courcey Parish which is brilliant for the future development.
“Covid was a huge challenge for us but thankfully we are coming out at the other end of it. The crisis was the worst I have witnessed in my lifetime. The second lockdown has been particularly difficult. Robbing us of our social life and especially our sport. Since the return to playing, I see big changes.
“Many people, particularly those in their early 20s have gone away from sport and found other forms of amusement. Not having full use of facilities such as dressing rooms is also turning people away.
“Teams are struggling to field and it’s going to be hard on clubs for some time. Also, revenue is down through lack of membership, rental and so on. This is really sad to see but hopefully, the love for soccer in our parish will become stronger again.”