Issue 3

  Issue 3 – April 2012  

Welcome to the third issue of BSJ30. We have a bumper issue this time – special thanks to all the contributers:-

Adult Hurling 1996-2011 by Seán Lane and Eamon Lawlor Jnr

From Inter. to Senior Success by Pat Smith

Over The Bar – An Interview with Dermot by Sean Mac Connell

Áras Naomh Eoin – Our Home by the Park by Michael Hand

Please contribute to the next Issue.

Next issue will feature Tom Chamber’s article on juvenile hurling in BSJ.

Please send all your old photos, cuttings, articles and videos in to
archive@ballinteerstjohns.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
or tell us about them and we’ll scan and return them.

Any errors spotted please let us know at the same address.

NOTE: THIS IS A BIG ISSUE SO IT MAY TAKE A FEW SECONDS TO LOAD BELOW.

 





Adult Hurling 1996-2011

ADULT HURLING 1996 – 2011

Our club was founded in 1982 and enjoyed great success over the years in both football and hurling at underage but not until 1996 did our club field an adult hurling team.  Over the years many good hurlers played their underage hurling with Ballinteer St John’s but then left and continued their hurling with our neighbours . However, in 1996 that all changed with the setting up of an adult team for the first time.  This major develop was the brain child of all the prominent senior hurling personnel in the club at the time with a dual purpose in mind.  Firstly to continue developing our young hurlers and secondly to ensure that there was a good adult structure when they were out of the minor grade.  Eamon Lawlor Snr and Eamon Jnr pioneered this crusade putting together the first team made up of ‘local’ lads and ‘country’ lads (picture below)

Back L-R: John Murphy, N Reynolds, P Ryan, E Lawlor, PJ DOlan, T English, E Donlon, C Goggins

Front L-R: L Brennan, L Kennedy, J Glendon, C O’Connor, T Hayes, D Kenny, M Hayes

that played Kilmacud Crokes in the first league game in Loreto Park losing narrowly in a high scoring game.  The year was a success in terms of team building, with the composition of the team changing over the course of the year as Eamon Lawlor jnr and Cyril O’Connor continued to recruit players ‘for the cause’; and with his father Eamon (senior) managing the team, the early defeat to the ‘auld’ enemy was emphatically overturned in the return fixture on a rainy summers evening in Silverpark.

 

Eamon Lawlor Senior Presenting Junior Championship Medals 1997

The following year the Lawlor’s were joined on the management team by Seán Lane who had just retired from playing hurling and took up the coaching duties. The team progressed nicely in the league and having qualified out of their group in the Championship played St Sylvesters in the quarter final at Malahide Castle.  This was a titanic struggle with the Ballinteer boys going on to win by 2 points.  A semi-final against Clontarf was next up where our lads easily disposed of them and were set up with a county final in O’Toole Park against Round Towers.  Eamon Lawlor Snr set out the strategy for that game having observed Towers in the other semi-final and the team lead by Eamon junior lifted the title which was to become a significant milestone for the club as it was our first adult championship in hurling.

The following year the team was to be promoted to Junior C league and championship, however, Eamon Lawlor Snr who was also the board delegate approached Con Ryan the Chairman of the junior hurling board and asked if possible to be promoted to Junior A hurling.  With Eamon’s political expertise this was achieved and a Junior A hurling team started in the league the following season. This was a massive step upwards for the team but a top four place was secured in the league which meant that we now had a serious hurling team in the club. The following year Tom Hayes came in to help Eamon with the coaching as Seán Lane took up a coaching role with the under 12’s/13’s and 14 teams.  There was great activity with the under-age structures at this time with Tony Redmond, Jimmy O’Neill, Kevin Donnolly and Laurence Giles all working assiduously with their groups and making progress.  There were now new teams headed up by Conor O’Brien, Ollie McKeown, Mattie Murphy, Seán Lane, Liam Kennedy, Norrie Reynolds and Frank Clabby.

The adult team made further progress over the next year winning the Junior A top 4 competition and promotion to the Intermediate league with an excellent win over St Vincents in O’Toole Park.  It was decided at this stage to setup a second team in the club and PJ Dolan who was currently playing on the senior team took up the role as player/manager with junior team. This team became successful and went on to win the Junior 3 league and Fletcher Shield in 2000.  In 2001, PJ Dolan was appointed by the Executive to take charge of the first team and in his first year reached the Dublin Junior A championship against a very fancied Civil Service team.  Unfortunately we went down that year and the following year we were beaten in the first round by a strong Kilmacud Crokes team who eventually won the competition.  All the senior hurling people got together and decided that to advance hurling to the next level an under 21 championship and the Junior A championship had to be won along with driving the team on to play senior hurling.

A new management team was put together for the U/21’s with Laurence Giles as Manager, Seán Lane as coach and PJ Dolan as selector. The previous year the under 21s were beaten in the semi final of the championship by Cuala by a point which was managed by Laurence Giles and Cyril O’Connor. This was the 2002 championship, but didn’t start until January 2003.  Two comprehensive wins over Parnells and Setanta saw our boys reach the under 21 final against St Marks.  The Marks team had won the championship the previous year and were favourites.  However, our boys got stuck in straight away and were eventual winners on a score of (5-13) to (3-9).  Ferghal Chambers captained the team that day and contributed 4 goals and 5 points in the game which was one of the greatest individual contributions in the clubs history in a county final.

Back L-R: Shane Cooney, Fergal Chambers,Paul Kissane,Colm Morrisy,Barry Judge,Cormac O’Brien,Denis Flannagan,

Eoin Naughton,Alan Power,Colm Duffy,Keith Nolan,Peter Meagher,Cian Duffy

Front: Eoin Murphy, Michael Meagher, Anton Redmond, Colm Gilligan, Sean Lane, Oisin Chambers, Raymond Redmond, Colm O’Rian, Eoin Walsh, Ciaran Lane, James Kennedy, John O’Hanlon

A new management team was also put together for the Junior A championship with PJ Dolan as Manager, Seán Lane as coach, Eamon Lawlor Snr and Kevin Donnolly as selectors.  Eamon Lawlor junior was captain, but the body of the team had now changed significantly as all but three fellows were now ‘local lads’ and all the good work put in by the mentors at underage was coming to fruition. After heading their group with wins over Cuala, Peregrines and Whitehall they reached the quarter final against Erins Isle who they would beat comfortably and Lucan Sarsfields who they would beat also to reach the final and on an August Saturday PJ Dolan and his team delivered the holy grail.

Dublin JuniorA Championship Winners 2003

In his acceptance speech Eamon Lawlor (jnr) thanked all the mentors of the underage teams for their tireless work in achieving this.  Brendan Muldowney, Tom Delaney and John Phelan were the three ‘country lads’ on that team and it was no surprise they all hailed from Kilkenny.  The year got better as the team progressed to the Intermediate league final where having drawn the first day against a very experienced Faughs team the management returned with a different plan the second day and won by 13 pts.  Senior hurling was now achieved for the first time in the clubs history.  At under-age Tony Redmond and Jimmy O’Neill brought a minor hurling team up to Kilmacud Crokes for the first round of the ‘A’ championship and left beating them (2-16) to (0-9).  The under 16 team reached the under 16 ‘A ‘county final, a team managed by Mattie Murphy was narrowly beaten by a strong St. Vincents team in O’Toole park. Two other teams reached under 16 finals – one managed by Frank Clabby, John Broderick, Peadar O’Ceannabhain and Dave McCarthy – and a second by Norrie Reynolds and Liam Kennedy but unfortunately were also beaten narrowly in the finals. Other teams were being managed by Conor O’Brien and Ollie McKeon were successful in winning under 15 leagues and championships during this period. It would be remiss of the writers not to mention the extraordinary contribution that Liam Kennedy made to the underage group and Liam left to live in Cork in early 2005. Many of the players that Liam trained and coached came through to play adult hurling with both teams.

The following years proved difficult as the young team were up against senior opposition and returned to Intermediate hurling.  However, they reached the semi final of that championship and got promoted back up to a new senior II grade in both league and championship.  Mattie Murphy had now joined the management team along with PJ as Manager and Sean as coach brought a new impetus to the team.  In 2006 the team played its Round Robin games and qualified for the quarter final of the championship only to be beaten by our near neighbours St Olafs.  At the end of 2006 both Seán and PJ stood down from the management and Tom Hayes was given the task to recruit new management. On PJ’s standing down he returned to give a full committment to his underage team and along with Frank Clabby they worked extremely hard with their group of underage players bringing them to play division I hurling years later. Mattie Murphy was appointed Manager with Billy Field and Kevin Donnolly as selectors.  Mick Dowling the former Irish boxer was brought in with a team to train the lads over the next couple of years.  Stephen McNamara of Clare fame replaced Mick Dowling with coaching duties.  The team made steady progress but unfortunately were beaten by Faughs in the quarter final of the championship.  Senior II league statue was retained throughout this process.  The next part of the plan was hatched by that management team where it was decided to get the 2nd team as high as possible in the leagues and championships.  The second team was very successful winning the Junior D and Junior C championships and being promoted to Junior A in the leagues.  Mattie Murphy, Stephen McNamara, Kevin Donnolly, Brendan Muldowney, Colm McShealaigh and Norrie Reynolds along with (the late) Jim Maher, Tony Redmond and Jimmy O’Neill are all to be congratulated for their foresight in this plan.  The outcome of this work meant that the senior team was supported well by the Junior team and also the platform of the second team gave all players coming out of minor a reasonable level of hurling to play. Stephan McNamara who had won two All Ireland medals with Clare in 1995 and 1997 doubled up with training the senior team in 2008 and 2009 but also coached these junior teams to county success. In the 2009 final Stephan McNamara played a significant role as can be seen from the article below.

Junior C Champions 2009

Top Row: Colm Mac Sealaigh, Stephen MacNamara, Tom Delaney, Denis Flanagan, Eoghan O Ceannabhain, Cian O Muirgheasa, Colm Duffy, Gavin Byrne, Brendan Donnelly, Louis O’ Flaherty, Brendan Muldowney, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Reamonn Mac Reamoinn, Brian Murphy, Norry Reynolds, Matty Murphy

Bottom Row: Darragh Taffe, Antoin Mac Reamoinn, Tom Hayes, Oisin Power, Eamonn McKeon, Colm O Giollagain, John Meagher, Micheal O Meachair, Padraig Scollard, Josh Hogan, Fiachra Power

Inset: Diarmuid O’ Muirgheasa

In 2010 the senior management was to change again with Seán Lane returning as Manager with Eamon Lawlor Snr, Frank Clabby and Liam Byrne as selectors.  Frank Clabby took charge of the physical preparation of the team and also planned the skills sessions for the year.  Frank had been successfully training a number of underage teams in the club over the years and Liam Byrne who hails from O’Louhglin Gaels in Kilkenny brought tremendous knowledge and experience to the management team. Eamon along with Seán were taking up management duties with the senior team for a third time. This year was unique in the clubs history in having been beaten in the first match by Raheny in the championship the team went 20 games unbeaten in league and championship.  In the championship the team topped their group and were drawn against Olafs in the quarter final a game they were to win comprehensively.  However in the semi-final they nearly came undone trailing by a point in injury time to Erins Isle but Joe Maher came to the rescue with an equalising point from over 80 yards.  They accounted for Erins Isle (2-9) to (0-7) in the replay in Tallaght and were set up for a showdown with Na Fianna in the County final on the 14th November in O’Toole Park.  Our boys won the game by a point as outlined in the match report.

There was a small matter of winning the league as well and this unique double was achieved in early 2011 by beating Naomh Mearnog in the final.  This final was played on our own All Weather Pitch and although the team struggled they came through with a late Ciaran Walsh goal.  Michael Hand the former Chairman spoke to the players before the match and asked them not to lose such a significant match on our own soil.  The players duly obliged.  Cormac O’Brien thanked all the players, past players, former management and current management in his acceptance speech after beating Na Fianna in the county final. Ferghal Chambers accepted the league title in the absence of the captain Cormac O’Brien. His acceptance speech on behalf of the players was in Irish – a proud moment for all the Irish speaking members of the hurling fraternity. The junior team who trained with senior team were promoted to intermediate hurling via the league which now put us in a strong position with a Senior I and now an Intermediate team as our second. Cathal McShealaigh, Norrie Reynolds and Peter Canning deserve great credit for their committment to the junior team on being promoted to the intermediate status.The team also reached the Junior B county final but were beaten by a strong Cuala team on the day.  The club has had many successes over the years but the passing of Jim Maher was a sad loss for the club.  He was one of the great hurling men in Ballinteer and is sadly missed.  His son Peter continues with the hurling tradition lining out with the 2nd and 3rd hurling teams and is an integral part of our hurling community.

The following year 2011 the management remained the same and had one clear objective to stay in Division I in the league and stay in the Senior A championship.  In the league the team drew with Ballyboden, St Vincents and had wins over Kilmacud, Brigids, O’Tooles, Na Fianna and Naomh Mearnog and not only retained senior I status actually ended up in the top half of the league.  In the championship the team comprehensively beat Na Fianna in the first round but went down to a strong Ballyboden team in the quarter final.  Over the same period of time a new management team was put in place to manage the under 21’s with Seán Lane as Manager Frank Clabby as coach and Johnny Meagher as selector.  In early 2010 the team reached the under 21 final having accounted for Commercials and Naobh Barrog in the early rounds.  The final was played against Oliver Plunketts and our boys emulated what had been done by the team in 2002. This was a very proud moment for Frank Clabby as he had been working with these players for nearly 10 years.   The under 21 team went on the following year to reach the semi-final of the 21 A championship with wins over Brigids (away) and St Vincents at home only to be beaten in the semi-final of the championship by a Danny Sutcliffe led St Judes Team.

Roll of Honour (Adult)

Senior (II) Championship 2010

Senior (II) League 2010

U/21B Championship 2009

Junior C Championship 2009

Junior D Championship 2008

Intermediate A League 2003

Junior A Championship 2003

U/21 B Championship 2002

Junior III League 2000

Junior D Championship 1997

Looking to the future things can only get better. With Dublin reaching both the All Ireland u/21 and minor finals in 2011, hurling in the capital is on the up and Ballinteer St Johns have made a huge contribution at both club level and county level.  In 2011 we had four players playing in All-Ireland finals – Glen Whelan, Aodhán Clabby, Donal Gormley all playing in the All-Ireland minor final and Fionán Clabby playing for Dublin in the under 21 final against Galway. We have supplied Seán Lane as Manager to the County minors and u/21 teams, under whose guidance the Dublin u/21 team reached three Leinster finals in a row between 2005 and 2007, beating Offaly in Parnell park in 2007 to win the Leinster final and the reach the counties first All Ireland u/21 Hurling Final since 1972,  where they lost out to a ‘Joe Canning’ inspired Galway. Several of the players involved in those teams backboned Dublin to the National Hurling league title last year, Dublin’s first since 1939!  Colm McSealaigh led the combined Dublin Colleges to the Senior Division 1 Leinster Championship in 2000/2001 and a lot of those players went onto represent Dublin, most notably Conal Keaney, Gary Maguire, Derek O’Reilly and our own Cormac O’Brien.

We have had numerous representatives on County teams.  The following are a list of players that have played either Senior National League or Championship with Dublin in the different grades.

Senior – Rory Donnolly, Cormac O’Brien, Fergal Chambers, Denis Flanagan,

Intermediate – Fearghal Chambers, Rory Donnolly, Jack Gilligan, Ciaran Lane, Joe Maher, Denis Flanagan, Keith Nolan

U/21 – Cormac O’Brien, Fearghal Chambers, Keith Nolan, Ciaran Lane

Joe Maher, Jack Gilligan, Fionán Clabby, Denis Flanaghan, James Gilligan

Minor – Denis Flanagan, Ferarghal Chambers, Cormac O’Brien, Keith Nolan

Paddy Corcoran, Ciaran Lane, Joe Maher, Jack Gilligan,

Fionán Clabby, Aodhán Clabby, Glen Whelan and Donal Gormley

The authors would like to recognise the contributions to this article from Jimmy O’Neill, PJ Dolan, Frank Clabby, Brendan Donnelly, Eamon Lawlor Snr, Cyril O’Connor, Mary Kenny, Liam Kennedy and Johnny Meagher. Mary Kenny along with her husband Phil were great supporters of Hurling in the early years and it was no surprise when researching old photographs and match reports that Mary supplied the bulk of the match reports. Indeed the first photograph in 1996 of the first hurling team was taken by Mary in Loretto park.

The history is only beginning……………

From Inter to Senior Success

From Inter to Senior Success

By Pat Smith

After the highs of winning the delayed ’98 Intermediate Football Championship in February 1999 Johns had little time for celebration as the Senior League was about to commence.

Our first game was away to St. James Gaels and there was a specially produced ‘T Na G’ Programme in respect of this game. We had no shortage of fluent Irish speakers on the team and I can clearly recall the players involved being interviewed at our assembly point for the game which was in the Superquinn car park. The main focus of the Programme was to establish how a team who had just won the treble of Championship, League & Cup for the 1998 season could achieve such success with no proper training facilities and no clubhouse. For the record we won our first game at Senior level with some late scores which added greatly to our enjoyment of the subsequent ‘T Na G’ Programme.

Our first Senior season was a learning experience of football at this level but we quickly adapted ourselves to the required standard and in the following two seasons were desperately unlucky to be edged out of the promotion places to Senior Division 1 level. This was all to change in the 2002 season. We had strongly lobbied at County Board level for a change in the promotion situation. We argued that recognition should be given to young clubs like St. Johns who were disproportionately affected in competitive league terms by having County representatives who were largely unavailable for league fixtures. Accordingly our chances of gaining the first two promotion positions in the league were considerably disadvantaged. As a result of our lobbying the format for the 2002 season was altered and now the 4 teams at the top of the division at season’s end would be involved in promotion playoffs. This was changed in later seasons to five with the first team being promoted directly.

2002 All Ireland Semi Final Programme featuring two proud BSJ men

At that stage we had 2 representatives on the Dublin Senior team, namely Coman Goggins who was Dublin Captain for that season and Johnny McNally. I can distinctly remember the high drama that took place in our favorite ground Loreto Park on a Wednesday evening in July 2002, 3 days after Dublin won the Leinster Senior Championship in Croke Park for the first time in 7 years. In fact the club had organised a wonderful special reception for our star players on the Monday after the final at Aras Na nOg and Coman and Johnny were also joined on that night by Kilmacud Crokes’s Ray Cosgrave. Needless to say autograph hunters were thick on the ground on both the Monday and Wednesday nights. The game on Wednesday was a very competitive affair against the Division 2 leaders at the time Round Towers Clondalkin and after a nail biting finale honours were shared. This proved to be a vital point for Johns who ended the league campaign in fourth position while Round Towers finished first.

Towards the end of the year with intercounty commitments out of the way Johns with a full complement of players now faced Round Towers in the Promotion playoff semi-final in O’Toole Park. In a low scoring encounter ,which was understandable in the weather conditions, and in a dramatic finish to the game with Johnny McNally and Coman Goggins leading the way Johns just edged out Towers by a single point which came in injury time from a free by Coman. Having now achieved promotion to Senior Division 1 Johns overcame our neighbours Naomh Olafs in an equally dramatic encounter the following Sunday in O’Toole Park to win the Division outright. One of our many star players on that side was David Gillick who went on to become double European 400 m indoor champion and who has since continued to be such an outstanding international athlete.

Johns competed very successfully in Senior Division 1 in the 2003 season and quickly consolidated their reputation as a formidable force at this level. Nevertheless when the Championship Draw was made we were drawn against the Division 1 leaders at the time St. Judes who were made favorites by the pundits to not alone dispose of us but were regarded by many as strong championship contenders. We had been joined at that point by the late great Tom Mulligan RIP who certainly added to the strength of our panel.

Newspaper reports the following morning spoke of the significant gulf in class evident in Parnell Park on that Thursday evening in July. However it was not Judes who were in the ascendancy but a Johns side powered forward in particular by Tom Mulligan and very ably supported by a wholehearted team effort who refused completely to accept their pre-match rating. Johns had a player very harshly sent off after two yellow cards just after 20 minutes but were still ahead by 1-9 to 0-1 at half-time having played with wind advantage. The second half saw no major change and Johns ran out convincing winners by 1-13 to 1-7.

To say that there was excitement in the Ballinteer area when the draw for the next round was made would be a considerable understatement. St. Johns would face our near neighbours Ballyboden St. Endas in the next round in Parnell Park. Not alone would St. Endas have their usual stars on board but would be greatly assisted by Enda McNulty from Armagh who had been a vital member of Armagh’s winning All-Ireland side the previous year. Again the pundits went for St. Endas who were regarded as very serious championship contenders. On a Sunday evening in August Johns rose magnificently to this very stern challenge and with heroes emerging in every position on the field ended the game victorious on a scoreline of 0-9 to 0-7. In a tense encounter scores had to be really earned the hard way and with a player from each side receiving two yellow cards late in the game it made for an extremely exciting finish. Johns defended stubbornly to the end and few would begrudge such a young club their success in reaching the Senior Championship Quarter Final for the first time in their short history.

The Quarter Final a fortnight later in Parnell Park saw us pitted against St. Marks who had many fine players including the outstanding dual player David O’Callaghan. National newspaper reports of the Friday evening encounter spoke of the Dublin Manger of the time Tommy Lyons being in Parnell Park for the game to witness Dublin’s three ‘Ballinteer Tenors’ create history for the Loreto Lions ,who progressed to the Semi-Final of the Senior Football Championship for the first time. They said that Coman Goggins, Johnny McNally and Tom Mulligan played no small part in this magnificent success but overall, this was a triumph that saw all the citizens of the parish donate handsomely. The final score was Johns 3-7 to 1-7 for Marks and even though the scoreline looked comfortable there was no denying that Marks constantly threatened throughout the game and indeed when David O’Callagan ticked on another free for Marks in injury time there was only a goal between the teams. Four minutes into injury time however Gerry Quirke scored the decisive goal and all that remained was for the magnificent Ballinteer support who had accompanied the team in huge numbers throughout the championship to pour onto the field to offer the team their heartiest congratulations. For the record the other 2 goals on the night were scored by the ever dependable Frankie Ward.

The Semi-Final took place at 6.30 on Sunday evening the 7th September. Our opponents were Kilmacud Crokes who were an extremely strong side backboned by many intercounty stars. Indeed this side would compete very successfully in Club competitions at not alone Dublin level but at Provincial and All -Ireland level during this decade. Nevertheless there was no shortage of confidence on the Ballinteer side for this encounter and indeed wise counsel held the view that if Johns got a fair proportion of even breaks during the game they could easily prevail.

The omens certainly didn’t look great weather wise for this game. While the forecast for Sunday evening was bad no one expected such dreadful weather conditions as prevailed on that evening.

While our previous championship games had been played in very good conditions which undoubtedly suited our fast moving style of play there was a virtual cloudburst prior to this game. It says something about our wonderful supporters who despite the atrocious conditions turned up again in huge numbers. During periods of this game visibility  significantly decreased and County Board officials were very relieved that the game barely avoided being called off.

The main newspaper headline from the game was that Ballinteer were out of luck in this Semi-Final. Johns were more than a match for Crokes in the first half going three points ahead within the first ten minutes. Crokes finished the half strongly though and were marginally ahead 0-5 to 0-4 at the break.

The beginning of the second half was where luck deserted Johns. Firstly Tom Mulligan made a magnificent drive through on the Crokes goal only to mishit the ball in the slippery conditions with only the goalkeeper to beat. Worse was to follow almost straight away. Johns lost a player owing to a mistimed tackle in the conditions. If being a player down was not bad enough shortly afterwards Tom Mulligan had to retire due to injury. We also lost Seosamh o Fatharta ,our brilliant wing back, during this game also owing to injury. To their credit though Johns never gave up and were extremely close to converting goal scoring opportunities late on in the game. Nevertheless Crokes deserved their win and Johns players and supporters as always were first to congratulate them despite their intense disappointment at not making the Final.

To put this championship run in context at the time it is important to remember that ten years previously Johns ‘senior’ team at that time was in the Junior 3 ranks. Here they were now ten years later competing strongly in the top Senior Division 1 League, having won Senior Division 2 the previous season, and losing out narrowly in the Senior Championship Semi- Final. This surely will inspire future generations of Johns footballers to not alone go one better that this by returning to the top league division and reaching the Senior Championship Final but to go on and win it.

The considerable improvement in Johns fortunes on the playing field at all levels during this particular era coincided with the marvelous progress being made by the Club’s Development Committee, supported by a huge supporter’s fundraising campaign, in providing a Clubhouse that we could all call ‘home’. Indeed some few short few weeks after the 2003 Championship run concluded came the even bigger success of the Clubhouse doors opening for the very first time barely twenty years after the Club had come into existence.

Few other clubs not alone in Dublin but nationally could match such success.

Over The Bar

Over The Bar – An Interview with Dermot

By Sean Mac Connell

BE HONEST,  can you think of a worst place to be for a Kerryman than facing a group of  triumphant Dubliners on the night of an All Ireland final when your county has failed and they have won?

That was the situation  Dermot found himself in last September after a few year of being able to look out across the bar as a Kerryman would with the quiet satisfaction the men and women of the Kingdom have with 30 plus all Ireland football titles.

Months on,  Dermot  still says with confidence;”We Will Be Back” and of course he means that but in the meantime he has the job of fronting one of the largest Dublin GAA Clubs and probably the tenth biggest GAA club in the country.

Photos by David Waters

Being born in Nenagh and spending an early part of his life in Waterford before arriving in the Kingdom, aged 12, is no defence for him because he is a Kerryman to his fingertips  and a professional to his toecaps.

He has been working in the catering industry since 1974 when he worked his way upwards  to the front bar in the function room  in Burlington Hotel, a position he held for nearly 18 years.

He was lured from there to the Berkerely Court Hotel where he was to spend the next 13 years and by happy circumstance, four years ago St Johns Ballinteer was looking for a top bar manager and he found himself  in the club.

“It was a bit of a change as I found myself dealing with a different clientele than usual but I am very happy here. Its very challenging to keep numbers up and to encourage younger people to come into the club,” he said.

“The main problem we face, as do many clubs like this, is to signal to all its members and to the wider community this space is not a closed shop but there is an open door and a welcome for all  including younger people who want to socialise,” he said.

“I understand how young people want to socialise and we have a plan to reach out to them and to the wider community here because this is a major community centre for the entire community,” he said.

“I am very lucky in so far as this is understood by the club and I know there are plans afoot to do just that and I am particularly lucky in the young bar staff here. I can say any of them who have worked behind the bar here, could find a job anywhere in the world,” he said.

During his time in charge, the club has shown the depth of its relationship with the local community  where christenings, birthday parties, retirement parties and celebrations of all kinds have taken place in the function room.

“Most of the local resident’s associations have their annual meetings here and we have even hosted a Muslim wedding on one occasion and that is over and above the club’s own football, hurling, and camogie events,” he  said.

“We can boast  a great range of events here during the week. What other premises in the area can say it has Bingo on Monday, music on Tuesday and Wednesday, the club Draw on Thursdays and very few weeks go by without functions on Friday and Saturday,” he said.

“We still have to get over that challenge where people looking at the club think of  it as being a closed shop and I hope the flyers the club plans to put out will off set some of that attitude,” he said.

“We also have to bear in mind the country is in recession and people have less money to spend. These are the difficulties we and all other businesses have to  face but  with good planning, these can be overcome,” he said.

The facilities here and the location could not be matched anywhere and  these are a tribute to those who had the vision to put them in place. There is room for all here and I hope  that is the way it will be in the future,” he said.

The only area where Dermot is not expecting any reduction is in the slagging he gets, not just from Dublin supporters but from the rest of the clientele as well.

“I can take it  and I hope I will be able to hand it out as well,” he concluded

Our Home by the Park

Áras Naomh Eoin – Our Home by the Park

By  Michael Hand

Introduction

The old Irish proverb runs ‘Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin’.  That is how it was for the early BSJ faithful who dreamed of their very own social venue, full of warmth, friendship, banter and conviviality; a refuge when the games are over or the day’s work is done.  Or indeed a place to celebrate when we bring home that elusive trophy.  Every week-end, as we took teams around the County, we admired with envy the facilities available to the competition.  It comes as no great surprise therefore, that the acquisition of a site and construction of a Clubhouse was the top agenda item for every new Chairman and Executive.

From a BSJ 2001 Newsletter

Site Search

My own involvement commenced in the early 1990’s when Brian Goggins asked me to have a look around for a possible Clubhouse site.  Over several months I sought out and spoke with various landowners in the area, all wily developers waiting for the right conditions to get their land rezoned for residential development and make their fortunes.  A few of us spent an enjoyable Sunday afternoon touring Ticknock for possible sites.  Everywhere we looked seemed hopelessly beyond our reach.  The first sliver of light came when, the old Dublin County Council published advance plans for what is now the M50 motorway and it’s feeder routes.  We picked out a few land ‘cut offs’ which might accommodate a Clubhouse.  I presented these to a recently formed Development Committee, chaired by JJ Duffy.  To say that members were underwhelmed by the size of these leftovers is no exaggeration as many of them, with roots in the country, had seen their childhood clubs develop big sports centres without concern for land constraints.  In any event, it slowly dawned on everybody that this was the only game in town and we began to examine the possibilities for each site.  We settled on a potential 0.6 Ha site beside the side gate of Marlay Park.  This site would be created by annexing part of the old Grange Road with the construction of the new Green Route.  The Committee completed a feasibility study on the site and decided that it could accommodate a small bungalow type building incorporating 4 dressing rooms and a meeting room.  And so, in late 1994, we started detailed engagement with the recently formed Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Project Development

It was ultimately to take more than a decade of endeavour to deliver the Clubhouse and there were many highs and lows over the period.  Some key project milestones were as follows:

• April ’95 – Formal application to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for Clubhouse site.

• September ’95 – Feasibility Study entitled ‘Ballinteer St Johns – A Suitable Case for Development’ submitted to the Council in support of the Grange Road site.

• April ’96 – Agreement in principle to our proposal from the Council.

• February ’97 – Brian Mullins and Associates appointed as Architects following a selection process based on a developed brief agreed with the Council’s Planning and Parks Departments.

• January ’99 – Green Route construction commenced leading to the freeing up of the site.

• July ’99 – Planning Application lodged following receipt of a ‘letter of interest’ in the site by the Council.

• June ’00 – Full Planning Permission granted.  There were no third party appeals.

• January ’01 – Design Team appointed for detailed design and tender stage.

• June ’01 – Signboard erected on the site.  Fire Certificate application lodged.

• September ’01 – Fire Certificate granted.

• March ’02 – Gas main diversion completed.

• August ’02 – Eircom cable diversion works completed.  Site cleared.

• September ’02 – Hegarty Demolition appointed as Basement and Groundworks contractor.

• October ’02 – Sod turning ceremony performed by Ministers Seamus Brennan and Tom Kitt.

• January ’03 – McCabe Construction appointed as Main Contractor.

• May ‘03 – Site Sporting Lease formally signed by the Council and the Club.

• December ’03 – Completion of Clubhouse and opening for business.

• May ’05 – Official Opening by an Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, TD.

All through this period the design was developed and flexed to what it is today.  This was achieved through ongoing rounds of meetings and consultations with the Council, particularly the Planning and Parks Departments. The bungalow of the original feasibility study morphed into a dormer bungalow, and then into a two storey building.  Then it was widened and lengthened as the full extent of the available site emerged.  Finally, a basement was added.  The planners insisted on quality building finishes, reflecting the prominence of the site, overlooking a Regional Park, and we obliged.  In return we enlarged the footprint to eventually achieve over 900 square metres of floor space.  We also negotiated a priceless pedestrian wicket gate access from the site into Marlay Park.  All the while there were differences of opinion about site access and the volume of car parking to be provided.  The Council initially sought 200 spaces, which would have rendered the site unviable, but they eventually agreed to the 65 available spaces on the basis that most Club members are local and would typically walk or cycle to the Clubhouse.  But perhaps the greatest coup of all was the agreement on site access.  Countless designs were developed in order to achieve an entrance off Grange Road, from the south or Pine Valley end of the site.  However, each one in turn was rejected by the Roads Engineers on traffic safety grounds due to the risk arising from too many turning movements at that location.  In the event, the solution came from the opposite end of the site when the Council offered to move back a 50m section of the Park wall in order to remove a pinch point and this allowed us create our very own access roadway and traffic light controlled entrance opposite Stonemasons Way.  The partnership model developed between the Council and the Club was a key ingredient of successful project delivery and the Club owes a great debt of gratitude to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and particularly it’s officers who helped us along the way.

The Funding Challenge

If the physical delivery of the Clubhouse was a triumph, then the financing of the development was a minor miracle.  The Club had a Development Fund account for years and any slim surpluses were squirreled away for the Clubhouse.  However, the need to build Áras na nÓg meant that virtually all the saved funds had been expended by the time that the Clubhouse project started to come together in earnest in 1997.  Around this time, Mattie Murphy was asked to chair a Clubhouse Fundraising Committee with a view to raising the then estimated €1.9m (IR£1.5m) required to deliver the Clubhouse project. The scale of the challenge was enormous and the sum involved was several orders of magnitude greater than anything the Club had ever faced before.  Following visits to several other clubs who had completed similar developments, a detailed funding plan was conceived.  This was shared with the membership and well attended meetings were held in the amharclann in Scoil Naithí at which the overall plans and funding strategy were outlined and debated late into the night.  A memory of these events is the excitement generated, but always tinged by incredulity, that we could dare to believe that it was possible to fund or even fit a clubhouse building on an imaginary sliver of land where the traffic still flowed. The four pillars of the funding strategy were finally agreed as General Fundraising, Membership Scheme, National Lottery / GAA Grants and Bank Borrowing.  It was envisaged that each pillar would raise similar amounts of around €0.5m but that each one would leverage the next so that the last piece of the jigsaw, being the greatest challenge, would benefit from the momentum of the others.

General Fundraising

General Fundraising was to consist of maximising the Club Lotto and coming up with all manner and means of fundraising.  Around that time golf classics, race nights and quiz nights were all the rage, having replaced flag days, raffles and cake sales as the stable diet of GAA club fundraising.  As even the most successful of any of these events could only hope to raise €10k, it was quickly realised that a major fundraiser was required if the targeted amount was to be raised.  Further, it was desirable to conceive an event that had wider appeal so as not to be tapping the same cohort of club support. This called for innovation and Mattie, an expert in all matters agricultural and equestrian was well known to have the odd flutter on the nags.  It so happened that Leopordstown Racecourse had just built a new 1,500 capacity pavilion for private functions such as sponsored race day events.  Meetings were held with track management, and the sums indicated that the Club could raise up to IR£75k in a single event, if it could fill the venue.  The Christmas festival was well known as one of the major annual national hunt events and soon, Sunday 29th December 1999 was set for our first Raceday.  Teams of sellers were handpicked and inculcated with three simple messages of ‘Sell, Sell, Sell’ – this event could not fail.  And so when we departed from Ballinteer on the morning of the event, we headed for Leopardstown with a mixture of excitement and fear of the unknown.  It transpired that we had sold 1520 tickets and the pavilion had never accommodated such numbers.  After some initial chaos, the management pulled out all the stops to eventually seat and feed everybody.  A great day was had by members and their guests but, most importantly, the financial target was exceeded – we were on our way in earnest.  It was decided to go again for the next year, this time on Sunday 28th December, but with the crowd limited to 1,000.  While the event sold out, the racecourse was covered with snow when the day arrived and the festival had to be cancelled.  Frantic meetings were held on that morning between the Club officers and racecourse management to see if the fundraiser could be salvaged.  In the end, it was decided to run with it.  The food was served up as before and afterwards, the racecourse ran videos of old races on the monitors.  The Club threw in additional prizes while Diarmuid Desmond and Seán Lane acted as bookmakers and 900 patrons enjoyed a unique event in the most surreal of settings.  After surviving that, nothing could stop us and subsequent successful annual Racedays followed as the model was finessed to include corporate selling, spot prizes, a €10 raffle and we moved to Pierse Hurdle day in mid January, one of the busiest national hunt days of the year.  Accordingly, by the 2005 event, we had well exceeded our target.

Membership Scheme

The Membership Scheme was designed to invite each member to answer the question, ‘ how badly do I actually want this Clubhouse?’  A series of presentations to the wider club membership outlining the scope of the project and the benefits accruing to the members and wider community drew a huge response.  In order to ease the burden on members, Jim Gillick arranged a special BSJ loan scheme with Dundrum Credit Union.  Three different pavilion membership options were offered – Life, 20 and 10 year and more than 300 families, accounting for over 1,000 members, joined the scheme.  The €600k raised showed that the membership indeed wanted it and demonstrated that we had the makings of a sound project.

Grant Funding

National Lottery grant rules required applicants to have at least 30% of estimated project cost secured before the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation would consider the project for support under their Sports Capital Programmes.  Other hurdles included proof of site ownership, planning permission, letters of support from the locality and further afield, a feasibility study and full financial projections demonstrating viability.  We sought proposals from specialist sports consultants and they quoted up to €20k to draft the application documentation.  Given that we were actively fundraising, this seemed like a huge leakage of hard earned cash and we figured that we would be assembling most of the data for the consultant in any event.  So, it was decided to mobilize our own team and for several weeks a dozen members, with the historical knowledge and the necessary skills, met for several hours every Saturday afternoon to pull together the submission.  We held a meeting with one of the Department’s senior officials who appraised us of their detailed requirements and the basis of the scoring system used in assessing applications.  Armed with this information, we formatted the application so that every angle was covered.  As our first application predated the launch of the Membership Scheme we got signed pledges from 50 members in order to overcome the 30% secured funds threshold.  Key to the success of the application was the financial model developed by Gerry Caulfield, which has been remarkably accurate in practice. The Club was successful with 3 different applications for support under the Sports Capital Programme in 2001 (IR£250k), 2002 (€200k) and 2003 (€100k). We received terrific support from our local elected representatives, particularly the late Seamus Brennan RIP, and Tom Kitt, both of whom held ministerial office during the period.  Each application was equally well prepared and such was the professional manner of our dealings with the Department that an excellent relationship was built up which was to serve us well into the future.  The Leinster Council of the GAA gave the Club a grant of €28,500 towards the Clubhouse project and ensured that our grant funding pillar delivered over €645k.

Bank Loan

The last funding pillar was Bank Borrowing which we believed would be a doddle compared to what we had endured to date.  Detailed proposal documents, complete with business plans, were prepared and submitted to the two regular Club banks for consideration in mid 2002.  Following several reminders, we slowly got the thumbs down from both of them.  In a state of disbelief, we approached National Irish Bank who indicated an interest.  We made our submission and their corporate lending manager, a former Donegal county player, came out to see what we were about.  Tom Hayes and I met him at the site and fortunately, Hegarty Demolition had just started digging out the basement and the air was thick with industry, diesel fumes and expectation.  We made our pitch and got good engagement.  However, the deal was clinched when Kieran Brennan ambled into view and they both realized that they had played against each other for their respective counties in the 1970’s.  Indeed, they both agreed that one of those encounters, a league match between Laois and Donegal on a wet Sunday in Ballybofey, was the best fight they were ever in.  Within weeks of that meeting, we had approval for a €630k mortgage over 15 years with attractive interest rates.  Of great assistance to our cause was a property valuation furnished by Vinnie Finnegan of Finnegan Estate Agents in Dundrum.  Like many others who assisted us along the way, we are still waiting for his fee invoice.

With the last pillar of the fundraising in place, we had €2.4m secured, safely above the fundraising budget.

Site Preparation

The Council was persuaded to effectively donate the site to the Club and the final legal agreement was for a 35 year Sporting Lease ‘subject to an annual rent of €1’. While the Club greatly appreciated the effective gifting of the site by the Council, it is fair to say that it did not come entirely without it’s burdens.  For a start, the Green Route contractor had used it to dispose of his surplus excavated material which had subsequently to be removed by the Club.  The footprint of the building sat on the old Grange Road and all the utility services had to be diverted around the building before construction could commence.  The long access road, the relocation of a 50m section of the park wall and the installation of a traffic light controlled junction added further cost.  Finally, the shape of the site, together with it’s level difference with the new Green Route, meant that we were required to construct over 200 m of retaining wall with a 2m high steel fence in order to secure the site.  On the credit side, we did inherit a perfectly good surface water sewer which we used to drain away rainwater from the roofs and car parks.  Then there was a section of the Grange Road itself which was salvaged and is now part of the entrance road and car park.  Also, we persuaded the Council to lay a section of the Clubhouse foul sewer connection to Heather estate, underneath the Green Route, concurrent with road construction, even before we had planning permission.  Finally, the cost of the traffic lights was largely absorbed by the Council through the good offices of Tom Toomey.

As part of a cost and risk management strategy, it was decided to break the construction into packages rather than award one single contract.  This approach also sat well with ongoing fundraising.  Individual service diversions were negotiated by JJ Duffy with the utility companies.  A 300mm gas main had to be diverted and this was completed fairly painlessly in March 2002 with the assistance of a Club member who was a Bord Gais employee.  The Council was prepared to abandon the water main as a new one had been laid in the new road.  The only remaining services were Eircom communications cables, and it transpired that seven major coaxial cables serving Sandyford ran in ducts beneath the Clubhouse site.  The company had been privatised and was quoting over €100k for doing the diversion with no flexibility on price.  Several months of negotiations got the price down to €80k provided the Club did all the excavations.  These were done in March 2002 and, such was the complexity of the operation that it took Eircom five months to lay the new cables and splice them at both ends.

Clubhouse Construction

The first major package was the Basement and Groundworks contract which was essentially an enabling contract for the Clubhouse proper.  It was awarded to Hegarty Demolition following competitive tendering and work started on site in September 2002 and was to run right through the Winter months.  At the onset, the Contractor used a value engineering solution to move the back wall closer to the Park and under the line of the main building. The basement excavation was over 3m deep and required an innovative temporary king post wall to prevent the Park masonry wall and adjacent surface water sewer from collapsing into the excavation.  This effectively increased the size of the basement by one third but the cost was borne by Hegarty Demolition. This was a significant gift to the Club by the company.  It transpired that the base slab was sitting perfectly on solid granite and extensive 24 hour pumping was required to ensure that the excavation remained dry.  Heavily reinforced good quality concrete was required throughout to ensure that the new basement remained dry and also had the capacity to support the new building.  The contract included for the completion of all foundations and the ground floor.  It also included for the completion of the major services and general site clearance in readiness for the main building contract.

While the Basement and Groundworks contract was in progress, tenders were invited for the Building Contract.  The seven tenders were opened in the Architects offices on 16th December 2002 and there was much relief that the lowest tender was close to the design team’s estimate and that we were on budget.  Following contract formalities, McCabe Construction was appointed to construct the building and commenced works in March 2003.  The Club was fortunate that one of our own would be entrusted with the building and, true to form, Tom employed a number of Club members and friends as sub-contractors starting with Pat Corcoran on block laying, followed by plastering by Brendan Nangle and carpentry by Brian Flynn.  Tom Donohue did the muck shifting.  The feature granite stonework on the front façade was completed by Shanlieve from Newry after their work was spotted by J J Duffy on a house in Waterloo Road.  Kieran Brennan retired early from the Gardaí to lend his skills in site security.  By the Summer, the structure was up, the roof was on and most of the externals on the building were completed.  Attention switched to the inside and particularly, mechanical and electrical services to a design delivered free of charge to the Club by a true clubman, Martin Jones.  All the while the Development Committee was exercised by the extent of internal finishes.  The tender documents were based on basic finishes in order to minimise costs.  However, by mid 2003, fundraising was going well on all fronts and the opportunity of going more upmarket, particularly in the public areas, presented itself.  A chance visit to Clan na Gael Fontenoy revealed that they had just completed a new bar and function room to a very high standard.  Following enquiries, we established that Intec Design, a specialist interior design practice, was responsible for the design.  We contacted them and soon commissioned them to complete a design for our Bar and Function Room.  I recall being on holiday in Leitrim when the final design was delivered and J J Duffy came down to Dromod to discuss it as time was of the essence.  On a hot Summer Sunday, sipping beers and looking out over the beautiful Lough Boffin, we agreed that this design had to be delivered, even at the estimated €150k extra price tag.  The Committee and Executive subsequently agreed and the Design Team was instructed to implement it.  In hindsight, this was one of the most important decisions of the entire development as it allowed us to articulate the terrific spaces available to maximum effect.  Accordingly, a fully co-ordinated finishes design was implemented in terms of materials, colours and lighting.  Quality timbers were complimented by carefully selected tiling, carpets and curtains.  All the loose furniture was selected to blend in with the interior design solution.  A variety of lights such as lanterns, pendants, wall lights, rope lights and fluorescent lights were fitted in order to create the right mood in each room.

Facilities Description

The Clubhouse consists of a two storey over basement structure.  The building was carefully designed to fit into the available site area while respecting it’s prominence, being sited between the Green Route and Marlay Park. The external treatment of the building was designed to blend in with other buildings in the Park in accordance with the requirements of the Planners.  Accordingly, the walls were finished in dry pebbledash and Rationel timber windows were fitted.  The more prominent elevations have lean-twos or overhangs to break up their mass. The main entrance and stairwell area is emphasised by the use of natural granite stone.  The roof was designed as a series of pitched roofs and all roof areas were finished in natural slate.

The ground floor was mainly designated for recreational purposes.  It includes four large dressing rooms, each with it’s own separate showers.  Also included were a referees room, an equipment store / boiler room, two committee rooms, a large youths room, a Club shop and a large toilet area.  It also incorporates separate clean and dirty entrances and lobbies. The basement was designed to incorporate the bar store / cold room and a large gymnasium area.

The first floor is given over to social or cultural activities consisting mostly of a Bar and Function Room with a combined capacity of 350 persons.  Supporting facilities include a small kitchen, additional toilet areas and a balcony overlooking Marlay Park.  This level is accessed from the central lobby by stairs or lift, facilitating full disabled access.  There are two additional fire escape stairways, one at each end of the building.

The building was designed and constructed to the highest standards throughout.  The teams entrusted with responsibility were as follows:

Design Team : Architect – Brian Mullins of Brian Mullins and Associates

Civil & Structural Engineer – Gerry Murphy of G M Murphy & Associates

Services Engineer – Martin Jones

Quantity Surveyor – Paddy O’Brien of P K O’Brien Associates

Interior Designer – Ciaran Leeson of Intec Design

Legal Advisors : Frank Ward & Company, Solicitors

Contractors :   Basement and Groundworks – Hegarty Demolition

Main Clubhouse Building – McCabe Construction

The involvement of a number of active Club members within these teams meant that their work was more than a normal day’s work and was completed very much as a labour of love, ensuring the highest quality.

Those Who Served

Over the decade it took to bring this project to fruition, there were many Club members who contributed freely and in a voluntary capacity, but the following deserve particular mention :

Cathaoirligh : Laurence Giles (1992-1994), Brian Goggins (1995-1997), J J Duffy (1998-2000), Tom Hayes (2001-2003) and Gerard O’Donnell (2004-2006)

Rúnaithe : Mattie Murphy (1994-1996), Kieran Duffy (1997-1999), Frank Sullivan (2000-2002 & 2005), Seán Lane (2003-2004).

Development Committee : J J Duffy (Chair), Brian Goggins, Michael Hand, Martin Jones, Gerry Murphy, Pat Smith and Denis Ward.  Michael Holland and Tom Kitt also served in the early days.

Fundraising Committee : Mattie Murphy (Chair), Kieran Brennan, Tom Hayes, Eamonn Lawlor, Tom McCabe and Dermot McMahon.

A feature of the project was the support and autonomy given to the Development and Fundraising Committees by successive Executives.  Also, there was tremendous co-operation between the members of the two committees throughout.  These were indeed the individuals who believed and who provided the leadership which ultimately delivered the Clubhouse.

Conclusion

The completion of the Clubhouse was a huge achievement for the Club.  It represented our coming of age and placed us on at least an equal footing with all our peers in the county.  The period represented a time of great teamwork, co-operation and excitement.  We had to learn quickly as the Club entered new territory with legal commitments such as the site Sporting Lease, consultancy and construction contracts, Lottery Deed of Trust, Bank Mortgage and a liquor licence.  We were fortunate too with our timing as we rode the Celtic Tiger, raising and spending €2.4m in a few short years. The development of the M50 generated the site opportunity, the economic boom facilitated unprecedented fundraising opportunities and the ready availability of credit allowed us to borrow at attractive rates.  Notwithstanding this, the opportunities presented were well managed and terrific value for money was achieved throughout, despite high construction inflation.  Key to the success of the project was a sound vision and the missionary zeal shown by a small group to deliver it, all on a voluntary basis.  Everything was done to the highest professional standard with sound governance throughout.  The quality of the finished building, and it’s success in operation, is a physical manifestation of the great care and attention to detail exercised over a long campaign.

The Official Opening of the Clubhouse was performed by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, TD on 8th May, 2005, an event attended by political, community and sports leaders, including Nicky Brennan, GAA President.  The cutting of the ribbon was the high point of a festival week-end of celebration which included inter county games in Marlay Park in all of our four codes.  Dublin played Tipperary in Senior Camogie, Dublin played Waterford in Senior Ladies Football, Dublin played Limerick in Under 21 Hurling and Dublin played Laois in Senior Football.  Above all, this was a chance for the Club membership to take pride in what they had collectively achieved.  However, the Unofficial Opening had taken place a lot earlier, on 12th December 2003 to be precise.  This was the occasion of our coming of age 21st AGM and outgoing Chairman, Tom Hayes, decided that this would be the first AGM in the almost completed Clubhouse.  When the normal proceedings were drawing to a close, the newly elected Chairman, Gerry O’Donnell, announced to the unusually large attendance that a treat was in store as they would get a tour of the building followed by a celebratory drink.  Tom McCabe had procured a few kegs and a wet commissioning of the bar was required.  So, as members surveyed the surroundings and puffed up their chests with pride, the question on everybody’s lips was ‘are we four star or five star?’  In the small wee hours when the kegs were nearly empty, Kieran Brennan called those present to order and announced a sing song before we headed for home.  Andrew Scollan led the way with that timeless classic, ‘The Streets of London’ and was duly immortalised as the first man ever to sing in our New Clubhouse.

Next stop, the Clubhouse Extension – watch this space!

Rare Clippings

Original Resident’s Association – Announcement of Intention to Form a Club

Thanks to Tom Cosgrave for Keeping this Treasure Safe!