Next Saturday week, September 17, will see a coterie of former stars descend upon the grounds of Castlelack FC at Brinny, just outside Innishannon for a series of fundraising matches.
Having built two new pitches at their home, provided by sponsors MSD, who have a large facility nearby, the club are now looking to continue the good work there.
It was back in 2017 that MSD and Castlelack first reached an agreement with regard to the six-acre site. Despite the onset of Covid-19, the grounds were completed and ready for use in July of last year. Affiliated to the West Cork League and drawing from Innishannon, Newcestown, Bandon, Crookstown, Aherla, Cloughduv and beyond, Castlelack field underage teams from U10-U16, U19, junior and masters levels and so the on-pitch traffic has been brisk, especially when the academy (U5-U9) is factored in.
In tandem with the progress made has been the increase in the club’s underage playing population, rising from approximately 60 children to around 160, with a third of those involved being girls. Each year, around 90 or so take part in the club’s FAI camp. With such a healthy number of young players, Castlelack are now keen to further develop the headquarters, as outlined by club chairperson Tadhg Curtin.
“We’re after developing two full-size pitches,” he says, “but we’ve no toilets or power or running water.
“Because we have so many boys, and girls – we’ve girls’ squads at U12, U14 and U16 now, with maybe 30 percent of the academy girls – that’s the priority, to get temporary dressing rooms with toilets in there.
“We’ve planning permission and we’ve a sports capital grant but we just need the additional money to get that over the line.” That situation was the inspiration for the idea to host a legends game, featuring former Republic of Ireland internationals Ray Houghton, Tony Cascarino and Mark Kinsella, among others.
“I think I’m getting the blame for that!” Curtin says.
“Or I suppose another way of saying it is that I’m taking the responsibility for it, with David Hall, who put the idea in my head.
“There’s been a great reaction, to be fair. We’ve spent the last three weeks in and around Bandon town and the surrounding areas and I have to say that the response has been brilliant, very positive.
“MSD are our main sponsors and they’re putting the legends team in,” he says.
“We have Ray Houghton, Tony Cascarino and Mark Kinsella lined up, while we’re hopeful that the likes of John Caulfield, Greg O’Halloran, Liam Kearney, Joe Gamble, Glen Crowe and Denis Behan can make it too and there should be some top women too like Caroline Thorpe and hopefully Stephanie Roche.
“Then you’ll have two Castlelack teams taking part as well – one is the Masters squad and the other is a mix of current and former Castlelack players. There’ll be three 30-minute games and it should be good fun.” As well as funds, fun is ultimately one of the main aim of the undertaking and it is shaping up to be something for all of the family to enjoy.
“There’ll be food and refreshments and a bouncing castle, so it’s a family fun day as much as anything else,” Curtin says.
“You can buy tickets online at tickets.ie or contact any club member. They’re €10 each, so they’re very good value.
“As well as MSD, Copper Grove in Bandon have been huge supporters of the event as well and on Saturday evening, there’ll be a question-and-answer session with the lads involved, though tickets for that are very limited.” See here for details on purchasing tickets for the Castlelack fundraiser