Cork GAA club focus: Vibrant Ballincollig tap into village history

Despite being one of Cork's largest clubs, Ballincollig chairman Donie Hannigan explains they're very conscious of their heritage
Cork GAA club focus: Vibrant Ballincollig tap into village history

Minister Jack Chambers at a recent visit to Ballincollig GAA club with committe members. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

BALLINCOLLIG is one of the largest urban areas in Cork and they are rightly proud of their GAA which they believe is ‘one of the most vibrant and exciting GAA clubs in the county.’

It’s hard to argue with that sentiment given its history, its stature, and the fact that it is truly a club that caters to men and women of all ages and levels of ability.

The club is now over 130 years old - it was founded in 1886 - and its current home remains on the site of the famous old gunpowder Mills, although it has gone under significant redevelopment in recent years as they look to continue growing.

“What is most impressive about Ballincollig GAA Club is that it is constantly endeavouring to improve on the facilities that are available with constant fundraising undertaken by volunteers within the club along with lottery and government funding,” begins chairman Donie Hannigan.

“Over the past three years, we have had three phases of development. Phase 1: 4G Pitch with lights & fencing. Phase 2: Sand base pitch and Phase 3: Floodlighting pitch three.

“The club also has a pavilion, bar, function hall, meeting rooms, and dressing rooms with a Floodlit Hurling ball alley with an onsite pitch and putt course.

“A club like Ballincollig GAA Club is obviously going to have success over the years however the area’s teams have been able to punch well above their weight with many titles brought back to our base.

Ballincollig's Noel Galvin wins the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ballincollig's Noel Galvin wins the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“Back in the 1940s Ballincollig reached three successive Cork County Hurling Finals and it stopped Glen Rovers from achieving nine in a row in the process.

“In the early '90s, the intermediate football county title was secured (1994) after losing the '91 and '93 finals. This date is still one of the most significant in the club’s history as the club won promotion to the senior ranks, something they have managed to maintain ever since.

“Two decades later the club reached the pinnacle of Cork football when they won the Senior Football Championship in 2014 - the most glorious day in the club’s history.

Ballincollig's Cian Dorgan goes past Blackrock's Ross Coleman in the 2018 IHC final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ballincollig's Cian Dorgan goes past Blackrock's Ross Coleman in the 2018 IHC final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“In hurling, there was county intermediate hurling success in 1999 when the side saw off Blarney. Three years at senior level followed, however, a few years of decline has seen Ballincollig drop to Intermediate status in 2013 before returning to Premier Intermediate in 2018 with a county championship win.”

But it’s not just the men’s side of the club that has grown massively and achieved significant success in the last couple of decades.

“Ladies in Ballincollig got involved with camogie in the 1970s. It took a little longer for football to grab the attention however in 2001 the locality set up what is now an active and vibrant club,” adds Hannigan.

Minister Jack Chambers at Ballincollig GAA with chairman Donal Hannigan and the U12-U13 ladies footballers. Picture: Gerard McCarthy
Minister Jack Chambers at Ballincollig GAA with chairman Donal Hannigan and the U12-U13 ladies footballers. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

“Both clubs have gone from strength to strength over the last 20 years with much success at all grades while producing a host of top-quality players with many going on to represent their club at county level.

“Although the club strives towards success on and off the field, all agree that the implementation of a very strong philosophy in the development of each player is much more important than any medals.

“Positive health and fitness for all the club’s girls is a key goal for all at Ballincollig.”

And like most clubs, Ballincollig refuses to rest on its laurels as it looks to the future in which they hope to add more trophies while having more men and women represent the Rebel County.

But the biggest thing for all concerned with the club is that they continue to have a positive impact on the community they represent.

“Off the field, the Executive Committee of Ballincollig GAA Club primarily steers the club while supporting the work of all the various playing and Event Committees.

“In recent years, under the dedicated and ambitious stewardships of the previous chairman Dave Walsh and the recent appointment of myself, Vice Chairman Tom Dorgan, Runaí Senan Power, Treasurer Dan O’Riordan, and other Committee members.

“The club has been preparing itself to future-proof the needs of the club and the community for many years to come.

“The club is now firmly established putting in a huge effort put into development from the juvenile section upwards to ensure the future success of all teams in the club.

The Ballincollig U12s with the Danny Crowley Memorial Cup last season. Picture: David Keane.
The Ballincollig U12s with the Danny Crowley Memorial Cup last season. Picture: David Keane.

“The Juvenile section and youth development areas are focussing on both hurling and football teams from U6 to minor.

“John Dwyer is currently doing massive work in promoting football and hurling in Ballincollig schools at primary and secondary levels as the local schools coaching officer. It is hoped that will bring more success to the club sooner rather than later.

“As with most GAA clubs, Ballincollig’s volunteers are key to the survival and growth of this all-inclusive club.

“The Executive Committee recognises the huge value that all the various volunteers bring to the club from the coaches to administrators, to groundsmen, to stewards, and to Committee members.

“In the coming months the club members will discuss and agree on the further needs of the club for the years ahead and a major period of important fundraising work will be carried out to deliver on these needs.

“Ballincollig as a locality is rightfully proud of its club. Ballincollig’s future looks to be as bright as its past however the club and its members are taking nothing for granted and the hard work continues at pace.”

ABOUT BALLINCOLLIG GAA CLUB

Nickname: The Village

Membership: 1,050 Members with 795 playing members

Number of teams: 22 U5 to U21 dual teams; Senior, Junior, Junior B, Junior C football; Intermediate, Junior and Junior B Hurling.

Ballincollig's John Miskella breaks from Na Piarsaigh's John Gardiner, Alan Keating and Eoin Moynihan. Picture: Kieran Boyde
Ballincollig's John Miskella breaks from Na Piarsaigh's John Gardiner, Alan Keating and Eoin Moynihan. Picture: Kieran Boyde

Major honours: Bride Valley Senior Hurling tournament 1895; Mid Cork Senior Hurling Championship 1909; Senior Hurling runners-ups, 1941, '42, '43; Junior Hurling County winners (2) 1927, '63; Junior Football County winners (3) 1933, '40, '81; Intermediate Football County 1994; Senior Football County 2014; Intermediate Hurling champions (8) 1912, '29, '34, '35, '39, '67, 1999, 2018.

Famous players: Paddy 'Hitler' Healy, Willie 'Long Puck' Murphy, Podsie O’Mahony, Noel Galvin, John Miskella, Dan Murphy, Pa Kelly, Cian Kiely, and Luke Fahy.

Division: Muskerry.

Facilities: 5 pitches; 3 full-size pitches (1 floodlit with second to be floodlit this winter), 1 training pitch and 1 all-weather pitch, a club pavilion, bar, function hall, meeting rooms, and dressing rooms with a floodlit hurling ball alley and onsite pitch and putt course.

'CLUB WILL BE AROUND LONGER THAN ANY OF US'

BALLINCOLLIG GAA club has changed drastically in the last 40 or so years and Brian Costello was there to see it firsthand.

“I joined the club in the early 1980s as an eight or nine-year-old playing for East Gate in the Parish Leagues,” he begins.

“I attended Scoil Eoin National School in the village and most of the boys at school played in the Parish Leagues for their estate or area.

“My father was involved with the club and my mother’s family were all involved at some level in the club.

“There have been many highlights throughout the years including the recent 2014 Senior Football County win, the 2018 Intermediate Hurling County win, the 2018 U21 P2 Hurling County win and many exceptional juvenile team performances.

These juvenile performances will hopefully create many more highlights at adult level over the coming years.

“The club had only one pitch in 1980 and over the following couple of years acquired the land for the clubhouse, pitch 1 and the dressing rooms to progressing to the incredible facilities we have now.”

But while a lot of great work has been done in the recent past, Costello also knows that the club, which means so much to him, must continue to work in order to keep progressing.

“The club means a great deal to me and my family,” he admits. “It is a remarkable organisation. A wise friend keeps telling me that the club will be around a lot longer than any of us, we are just passing through it.

“It is, therefore, my belief that those of us involved in the club now must do our utmost to progress and develop it, both on the field and off it, as best we can while in the position to do so.”

HEARTBEAT OF THE COMMUNITY

AS soon as Oliver Ryan made the move to Cork, he knew one of the first things he needed to do was join a local GAA club.

“I joined Ballincollig GAA in 2016 after moving to Cork from Dublin,” he says. “Coming from Tipperary originally, hurling and football is all I played from an early age, and have played with a number of clubs.

“Being new to an area, I always found joining a local GAA club to be a great way to meet new people who share similar interests.

GAA clubs tend to be the heartbeat of a community and Ballincollig GAA is no different.

“Joining the club has given me the opportunity to become part of Ballincollig. Meeting new people has been fantastic. You feel you belong somewhere when you walk through the village and people recognise you by name,” he admits.

Ryan still contributes to the club on the pitch (when called upon) but he has also given back plenty of time in his role as manager of their U6 hurling and football sides.

“As I joined the club in the twilight of my playing days, any day I get a game is a highlight,” he jokes.

“We had some good days out in junior football, winning a C championship and the Lena Down tournament a couple of times.

The Ballincollig team, organiser James O'Reilly and managers Paul Desmond and Kevin Bohane after winning the 2016 Lena Down Junior B tournament.
The Ballincollig team, organiser James O'Reilly and managers Paul Desmond and Kevin Bohane after winning the 2016 Lena Down Junior B tournament.

“There’s a great sense of achievement in creating an environment which allows the boys to make new friends while learning the skills of the game.

“I’ve no doubt some of the players will achieve great things on the playing fields but what’s just as important are the other life skills the players pick up along the way, the friends they make, dealing with winning and losing, being part of a team.

“The club creates an opportunity to be a positive influence on its youngest members and it’s great to be a part of this.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more