KILMEEN and Kilbree GAA Club are currently thriving both on and off the pitch.
The club recently completed a series of impressive development projects, while various teams in the club enjoyed very successful seasons.
The progressive west Cork unit has embarked on several exciting development projects in their club grounds in Rossmore in recent years.
There is a long GAA history in the parish with Kilmeen representing in football and Kilbree in hurling, while there is also a flourishing camogie club in the area.
The Carbery divisional club, which was founded on February 28, 1888, has grown substantially in recent years with the club now boasting 515 playing and non-playing members. The ambitious club currently has four adult teams and 12 underage teams, and they now boast state-of-the-art facilities to cater for their growing playing numbers.
The Kilmeen-Kilbree club like many others started out from humble beginnings using farmers’ fields in various locations of the parish to facilitate both training and games. As the GAA become more popular in the locality a permanent home was required to secure the future of the club.
A group of local stalwarts set up Kilmeen Community Development Association in 1978 with the aim of developing a community sports field to meet the needs of the growing number of players.
It was paramount that the grounds would be located in a central location. Rossmore village was selected, and the land was purchased from the parish priest to construct the first pitch in the parish.
In the following decades, many further developments were undertaken by local volunteers including the construction of a dressing room in the 1980s. In the mid-2000s additional land was purchased, and a second pitch was constructed adjacent to the primary pitch. At the same time, the dressing room capacity was doubled, while a ball alley and meeting room were also constructed.
The most recent development drive commenced in 2018. The original pitch, with 40 years of services under its belt suffered from water logging which rendered the pitch unplayable for large periods of the season.
The club subsequently embarked on a major drainage project during 2020/21 to rectify this situation. The project received 95% Sport Capital Funding (SCF). The works included the installation of 22 km of drains and the application of 450 tons of sports sand and accompanying verti draining.
The Kilmeen-Kilbree club is also one of just five GAA Clubs in Munster in the GAA Green Club Programme, under the Biodiversity Theme.
Biodiversity works were carried out on the club grounds over a two-year period from 2019 to 2021. This work included conducting a baseline biodiversity study on the club grounds, and the planting of 1500 native trees and pollinator-friendly pants.
Other recent developments and initiatives include the installation of a player-funded gym in their clubhouse in 2019 and the construction of a walking track around the club grounds.
In 2021 the club received 50% funding from Cork County Council to construct an 820 metre all-weather, secure pedestrian walking track around the perimeter of the club grounds. The walk is available for all to use including the club’s members, residents, community, and license holders.
The ambitious club also decided to create a sand-based training area within the club’s 11-acre facility which was successfully constructed last year. This ensures that appropriate training areas in the first quarter of the year are now always available for all the teams.
The growing array of maintenance equipment required club volunteers to construct a new storage shed this year with both the training area and shed funded largely through the club's Rebel Bounty sales.
The club received further Sports Capital Funding this year which helped them complete the installation of floodlights in the training area.
Not content to rest on its laurels, the club has more plans as they strive to provide the best facilities for its club members.
The development committee consisting of Ger Collins, Michael Burke, Gavin Twohig, Sean O’Brien, and Jason Collins have further plans to erect perimeter fencing and ball stop netting around the training area along with further sanding and verti-draining of the pitches. Fundraising will be required to carry out these works.
Club PRO Marie Dorgan said the club is delighted with all the development projects carried out in recent years: “A lot of work has been carried out. There is a great community spirit in the area.
“It is a small parish, but in terms of football, hurling, camogie, drama, and ploughing everyone rows in together. People are involved in all the organisations. The population is small, but everybody tries to help everybody out the best that they can,” she added.
“We want to finish it off completely now,” said the club official. “We are thrilled with what we have, but we are determined to keep adding to it. The playing pitch, the training pitch, and the new floodlights are brilliant. We can host matches later in the year and it is ideal for training purposes.”
The club is very grateful to all who have helped them carry out the various development projects on the club grounds and clubhouse.
They are indebted to their club volunteers, the continued support from Keohane Readymix, Fr Jerry McSweeney’s donation, DLF Builders, Sports Turf Solutions, O’Riordan Electrical and Cork County Council.
They are also in rude health on the pitch.
Their junior footballers won the South West junior B football championship this year which means they will be competing once again in the junior A grade next year, while their hurlers compete in the junior A grade in the Carbery division.
The club also possesses adult and underage camogie teams. Their adult team will be competing in the junior B county grade next year.
The club enjoyed great success in the various underage grades this year. Their U15 team in particular enjoyed a great season. They won a treble in hurling and they also captured a football league title.
Club PRO Marie Dorgan paid tribute to the U15 team for their exploits in both codes.
“The U15 hurlers have had an incredible year. They won the U15 hurling league after defeating Western Gaels in the final. They won the West Cork hurling championship after beating St James in the final. They then defeated Ballycastle Gaels in the county final in October.
“This is a huge achievement for a small club. Many clubs in West Cork are part of an amalgamation, especially for hurling. Kilbree had to field several U13 players throughout the season, including in all the finals. They also won the U15 football league title after they defeated Ilen Rovers,” she added.
"Many of the younger boys are on West Cork development panels. The boys are fortunate to have an excellent management team. John Murray and Noel Young manage both teams.
"Current adult players Mike D Keohane and Brian O'Donovan devote much time to coaching both panels. The boys really look up to these players.”
The club official is hopeful the talented underage players will progress to playing for the various adult teams in the club.
“This U15 team has been playing together since they were U6. They are a very cohesive group. They play as a team and fight for each other in every match. It is hoped that this bond and team spirit will carry all of them into playing at the adult level with the club.”
The club PRO was lavish in her praise for the great coaching work at both adult and underage level within the club.
“There is incredible coaching being done at all levels within the club. County titles have been won at underage level and within the camogie club. There is a great club and community spirit within Rossmore. Our teams are reaping the rewards of this great work.”