Issue 4

  Issue 4 – May 2012  

Welcome to the fourth issue of BSJ30.

For Club and County by Pat Smith

Hurling in Ballinteer St Johns – The Early Years by Tom Chambers

Ballinteer St Johns Nursery by Nora Stapleton

All Weather Playing Facilities  by Michael Hand

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For Club and County

For Club and County

by

Pat Smith

 Following the Leinster Senior Football Final in 1999 in which Meath rather easily accounted for Dublin it was clear that the introduction of new talent to the Dublin panel was essential if any hope of future success in Leinster was to be entertained. The feeling among the management of Johns at the time was that we had a number of players who would greatly strengthen that panel.

Coman Goggins had previously come to the attention of the Dublin under 21 selectors after his displays on successful John’s sides at that level but unfortunately was just outside the strict age limit when invited to join that panel. John’s players figured prominently on the Dublin Junior panels of 1998/1999. Indeed three John’s players featured on the Dublin Junior team of 1999 which came close to capturing a provincial title namely Coman Goggins, Johnny McNally and Captain James Oliver. Few will forget Coman’s brilliant goal against Wexford in Nowlan Park in Kilkenny in the opening round of that year’s Championship. Of course it was no surprise that John’s players were now gaining such recognition after the clean sweep of Intermediate football trophies for the ’98 season.

Towards the end of 1999 the Dublin Senior Manager at the time Tom Carr contacted Coman and invited him to join the Senior panel.

Coman and his family ,who are steeped in the GAA tradition, were obviously delighted but at that time it also gave everyone in Ballinteer St Johns a wonderful lift. For such a young club to have one of their own on the Dublin senior panel was a marvellous honour.

When news came through on the eve of the Dublin’s opening game in the 2000 Leinster Championship that Coman had been selected at left full back on the team to face Wexford there was a definite celebratory mood in the club. Those club members who were in Croke Park for that match were delighted to see Coman’s name listed alongside Ballinteer St Johns on the match Programme for the first time in the Club’s short history.

Coman would subsequently go on to represent Dublin in a brilliant inter county career stretching out over 8 consecutive seasons in a variety of positions but most frequently at either left full back or left half back. He also starred at centre half back in the league campaign of 2006. With injuries taking their inevitable toll Coman announced his retirement from inter county duties at the beginning of 2008. He continued playing for Johns for a further two seasons until injuries eventually forced him to retire. During his time with the Dublin Seniors Coman won 4 Leinster Senior Titles, captained Dublin to Leinster success in 2002, lost out agonisingly by the minimum margin in the All-Ireland semi-finals of 2002 and 2006, won an All-Star for his amazing performances in Thurles in 2001 versus Kerry in the All – Ireland Quarter Final and replay, represented Leinster in the Inter Provincial series and played in the second International Rules game in Adelaide in 2001 with Ireland winning the series two tests to nil.

Coman was first and foremost a brilliant club player and was a star performer in John’s successes over many years. Indeed Coman was named on the 2006 Dublin Bus/Evening Herald Blue Star Club Football XV at left half back. In his final game for the club which was a vital match versus O’Tooles in early 2010 Coman’s experience was vital in carving out a crucial win for the club. Coman finished that game in considerable discomfort as a result of his endeavours and it was indeed fitting that he should bow out for the club giving his all which he had always done.

Leinster Final Day 2002 was very much a red letter day for Ballinteer St Johns. Here we were with two of our own star performers on the starting fifteen namely Coman Goggins and Johnny McNally. Not alone that but Coman was captaining Dublin for that season. On a brilliant summer’s day in front of 78,000 spectators Dublin narrowly overcame Kildare in a fantastic final which was a wonderful advertisement for Gaelic football. When Coman lifted the Delaney Cup, for the first time in seven years to the adoring fans, with Johnny in close attendance every Ballinteer heart filled with pride. Later in the same season Johnny and Coman would help Johns capture the  Division 2 Senior Title and in the following season come so close to bringing Johns to their first Senior Championship Final.

In these and subsequent seasons it was interesting to also note the emerging faces in opposition teams, in senior club matches involving Johns, who would later go on to feature in last year’s winning Dublin All-Ireland team which was the culmination of all of the efforts of those Dublin players both at club and county level, not least Coman and Johnny, who gave their all during those years, to deservedly share in that memorable success.

 

Johnny McNally, now part of the management team for John’s Senior team, is part of the famous McNally clan who have such a distinguished sporting history. In the ’99 Intermediate Final and in the Senior Team’s successes in the early 90s, Johnny’s brother Kevin played brilliantly in goal having earlier in his career had an outstanding outfield role. Towards the end of the 2001 season Johnny was forcing his way onto the Dublin Senior panel. Indeed there were many in the County not least at club level who felt that Johnny should have been on that panel much earlier such were his consistently high club performances. His introduction to Senior inter county competition came at left corner forward in the O’Byrne Cup campaign in late 2001 and his first inter county league game was on 10th Feb.2002 in Parnell Park versus Donegal where he scored 2 points in a 2 point win for Dublin. Johnny would go on to star for Dublin over a three year period winning a Leinster Senior medal in his debut season of 2002. In the All-Ireland Semi-Final of 2002 versus Armagh Johnny lined out at left half forward.

Following his inter county career Johnny would continue to perform heroically at club level for Johns and indeed many in knowledgeable football circles in Dublin regard Johnny as one of the all time greats at club level in the capital. Only last season Johnny was providing invaluable leadership skills on the field to the emerging young talent in St Johns. Injuries permitting and leaving aside his new senior management role the hope is that we will see some on field action from Johnny in the current season.

Tom Mulligan RIP otherwise known as the ‘gentle giant’ joined us at the beginning of the 2003 season from Good Counsel. From first introductions everyone felt at ease with Tom and indeed became very friendly with his family who attended every game he played. Tom played with Dublin over the 2002-2004 period being part of the Leinster winning Dublin senior panel in 2002. Many remember his first introduction as a sub for Dublin at a vital stage in the Leinster Championship Quarter Final battle with Wexford in Carlow in the 2002 campaign. Tommy Lyons the then Dublin Manager regarded his best game for Dublin as being against Laois in the Leinster Senior Championship semi-final of 2003. He played a vital role in John’s progression to the Dublin Senior Championship semi-final in 2003 having a really outstanding game in the victory over St Judes en route to that semi-final.

When news broke of his tragic death at such a young age in August 2007 it would be a massive understatement to adequately describe the sense of disbelief among football followers everywhere not least in Ballinteer. When his father spoke so eloquently of his wonderful son at his funeral mass tears flowed freely and he will truly long be remembered by his family, friends and all those lucky enough to have come in contact with him.

It is the strong contention of many who are football wise that if Ballinteer St Johns had been located in most other counties in the period from the late ‘90s through the early 2000s there would have been many more John’s players called up to inter county duties. Such was the sheer competition of numbers in Dublin that it was extremely difficult for players from an emerging club at that time to first of all come to the attention of the Senior Dublin Selectors and even if lucky enough to get a call to then properly deliver in the short timeframe opportunity provided. An example of one such player overlooked by Dublin during this particular period was Gerry Quirke who even though he played in the O’Byrne Cup with Dublin in 2004 could easily have gone on to have had a long and distinguished inter county career. Gerry is still going as strong as ever on the John’s senior team and providing wonderful leadership to his younger playing teammates.

Looking to the future and with the club now so strong at all levels there is every reason to believe that with an emerging young talented group of home produced players, many of whom have already gained representative underage recognition with Dublin, Johns will be well represented at senior inter county level into the future. Indeed currently our own Nicky Devereux was on the All-Ireland winning Dublin panel last season having earlier played for Dublin in that season’s league campaign and having played left half back on the previous year’s winning All-Ireland Dublin U/21 football team. This future senior inter county representation will be ensured if similar to the past , John’s players continue to distinguish themselves with high standards at senior club level,  and this will inevitably lead to recognition at senior inter county level.

Finally when ‘Sam’ arrived in our clubhouse on his triumphant celebratory journey throughout the Capital following the All- Ireland success ,accompanied by Nicky and other Dublin stars, it reminded older members in particular who were present of the wonderful progress made by the club since ‘Sam’ last arrived in Dublin in 1995. This time we had a ‘clubhouse home’ to truly do justice to ‘Sam’s’ visit.

Hurling in BSJ The Early Years

Hurling in Ballinteer St Johns – The Early Years 

by

Tom Chambers

Juvenile hurling training commenced in St. John’s on Wednesday the first of September 1982. The club had been founded four months earlier. Between September and Christmas, a number of challenge matches were organised between teams from St. John’s and St. Mary’s school in Rathfarnham by one of the teachers there Fintan Walsh, who was very helpful throughout this period. By January 1983, over sixty players were taking part in hurling training and coaching. Two of the Mentors Chris Grace and Tony Quinn completed a County Board coaching course and in Feburary 1983 ran a four week course for hurlers in Ballinteer Community School. The other mentors involved were Paddy Lawlor, R.I.P. Ollie Quinlan, R.I.P. Eamonn Hayes, Tom O’ Mahony, Tom Kennedy, R.I.P, Eamonn Lawlor, Eamonn Mannion, Henry D’Arcy, R.I.P. and Pat Morris. The club entered two teams in the juvenile hurling leagues that year, namely, under 10a and 12. The league ran from March until June and games were played on Saturday morning. The under 10 team finished second in their league and third in the juvenile hurling board summer league. They also won the team of the week award in 1983 for their outstanding display against St. Pats of Palmerstown.  The under 12 team finished third in their league which was a great achievement considering most of their opponents were hurling for three years.

Back left to right: Aidan Cosgrave, Ciarán Finn, Maurice McCarthy, Pat Coleman, Aidrian Donoghue,

Paul Mullen, Cormac Finn,Kevin Sheridan, Noel O’Mahony, Paddy Lawlor.

Front left to right: Darren Wyse, Tony O’ Malley, Mark Roberts, Anthony Gough, Anthony Quinn, R.I.P. Ciarán McGrath,

Ciarán Goggins, Eamonn Wren, Emmett Flynn, Morgan Goggins. Absent, Michael Quinn.

The following year 1983/84 two under ten teams were entered and one each under 11, 12 and 13. By March 1984 John Kelly had joined Chris Grace and Henry D’Arcy, mentoring the under 12 team. That year two of the hurling teams were runners up in their respective leagues. 1984/85 also saw two teams finishing runners up in their leagues. They were the under 10 b hurlers and under 13’s. As a result of their achievements, the club was listed in the role of honour in the Dublin Yearbook.

1985/86 saw two under ten teams been mentored by Michael Delaney, Aidan Power, Seán Keane, Paddy McGrath, R.I.P. and Derek Oman. Des Lynch joined Tony Quinn with the under 11’s.  Jerry Murphy and Michael Wren joined the existing mentors with the under 12’s and Michael Cleary and Morris O’Connell went with the under 13’s.

Photo of under 13 hurlers 1985/86.

Mentors on back left to right: Michael Cleary, Ollie Quinlan.

Mentors from front left to right: Eamonn Lawlor , Maurice O’ Connell and Paddy Lawlor.

Early in the year Paddy Lawlor died suddenly. It was a huge loss to everybody involved.  An under 13 hurling tournament was inaugurated in his name and continues to this day.  It initially involved Dundrum Churchtown (no longer in existance)  Kilmacud Crokes, St. Olaf’s and Ballinteer St.John’s. In later tears, teams from the country were invited instead.  Paddy had ran a shop in Ballinteer which was a major meeting place for club members, especially the hurling mentors.

1986/87 The hurling highlight of the season was when St. John’s defeated Liffey Gaels in the final of the hurling league under 13, after a replay.  This was the clubs first hurling cup. The team mentors were Tom Donoghue and Tom O’ Mahony with help from Mick Wren and Derek McCullagh. The under 10’s finished runners up in their division. At the underage level, 7/11, Seán Keane and Paddy McGrath were teaching the skills of the game. The Paddy Lawlor tournament went ahead for the second year running.

Photo of team: players  included: M. Goggins, N. McCullough, E. Morris, E. Tighe, K. O’Toole, A. Quinn, C Goggins, M. Donoghue, K. Sheridan, T, Donoghue, A. Donoghue (capt.), M.Hayes, E.Wren, E. Byrne, N. O’Mahony, E. McGrath, P.Coleman.

 

The 1987/88, This year only two hurling teams, under 11 and under 14 were entered in competition. An under 10 team could have been fielded but there were no hurling mentors available.

1988/89 two teams entered in leagues, under 12’s mentored by Paddy McGrath and Seán Keane as well as under 15’s with the management team of Marty Donoghue and Tom O’ Mahony.

1988 saw the change in the age group eligibility date from the 1st of September to the 1st of January.this change certainly didn’t help the already deteriorating situation with hurling in the club. In my view, this was because most hurlers were dual players and had opted for football only at this stage. Some had gone to other clubs where the perceived their prospects for future advancement would be met. There was also a shortage of hurling mentors coming in to the club. Many of the earlier mentors were looking after both hurling and football and in the long run, couldn’t continue to do both.

1990 only a minor team entered for this season, which was managed by Tom Donoghue. In April of 1990, Tony Redmond and Tadhg Donovan started hurling training with under 9’s and under 10’s respectively.

1991 under 10’s and under 11’s entered in leagues, both teams runners up. Kevin Donnelly and Michael Cleary helped Tony and Tadhg with the teams. This was the beginning of the hurling revival of the 1990’s.

TO BE CONTINUED.

BSJ Nursery

BSJ Nursery
by
Nora Stapleton GPO (Games Promotion Officer)
Ballinteer St Johns Football, Ladies Football, Hurling & Camogie
Venue: Broadford
Time: 10.00am – 11.00am (older groups go until 11.30am)
The current Ballinteer St Johns nursery is striving! We can boast that we now have in excess of 180 children out playing every Saturday morning. This increases to over 200 when the sun is out! The nursery takes place in Broadford and stretches the length of the green with both boys and girls playing hurling/camogie and gaelic football.

Current Over-all Co-Ordinator is Paraic Kennedy who says “We are delighted with the number of children attending the nursery and we have strong representation from all the national schools in the area. From a coaching perspective we are also providing coaching courses for the mentors who are keen to progress within the GAA coaching structure”

Paraic is also the co-ordinator/ lead mentor of the 2004/U8 boys team. This team is made up of about 35 boys and are progressing nicely in all areas of their skill development. These skills are put to the test regularly in the many blitz matches they play against other local clubs.

Barry Farrelly is the co-ordinator of the 2005/U7 age group. This team currently have about 45 players and are growing all the time. Soon they will be starting into their friendly blitzes against other local teams so no doubt there will be a lot of excitement around this.

Barry Farrelly, “This year we are focusing on developing the fundamental skills in hurling and football and encouraging the lads to practice these skills in their spare time”

The next group are our newest recruits into the nursery 2006/U6. Having just arrived in September they are going from strength to strength and now have almost 60 children turning up every Saturday morning. The credit here must go to their co-ordinator, Alan Reddan and his team of mentors. With his expert leadership and organisation he has stepped in to his new role with ease.

Alan Reddan, “At this stage the important thing is that the kids are enjoying the games and getting as many touches of the ball as possible.”

The co-ordinators wouldn’t be able to do all this on their own however so we must give a huge mention to all the parents who help out on a regular basis. These are now the future mentors of the club and they are really doing a fantastic job. Rain, hail or shine they are out on a Saturday well before 10.00am setting up their games before the players arrive. Hats off!!

A lot of help also comes from the future Summer Camps workers of the club. Every week numerous players from the U15-minor teams show up to help coach the kids. The best thing about it is that they have the skills that the players want to learn.

The girls section of the nursery is also growing. This year for the first time ever we have combined camogie and football so now the girls are getting the chance to play both sports. We have between 40-60 girls showing up every Saturday morning with more and more arriving each week.

Jim Holland is the co-ordinator of the girls nursery and he says “The girls Nursery took a different approach this year under the prompting of Nora Stapleton, Philip Brown and John Meagher to incorporate the Camogie and Football together. The response was enormous with 110 girls participating in both codes at one stage or another over the winter. Regularly we will have in excess of 60 girls each Saturday with a peak of 85 being recorded. Exposing the girls to both codes means they sample each and don’t form prejudices. The co-operation of parents has also been brilliant. And there are 8-10 parents who regularly participate in the coaching every week. Some were apprehensive at

first but have shown great spirit in adapting and show a willingness to learn. There is a good supply of parents available to manage all the different age groups as they leave the nursery and this must be nurtured. I must also pay tribute to our 4 outstanding young coaches, Niamh, Roisin, Roisin and Sarah who regularly attend the sessions even though they have matches/training and other community based activities to participate in.”

Not only do everyone mentioned above show up every week for the nursery but they also attend training courses to improve themselves as coaches. They then implement what they’ve learned into their training sessions making them more enjoyable for everyone.

So the next time you’re passing Broadford on a Saturday morning why not stop off and have a look. Maybe you see a group jumping over hurdles and army climbing under nets, or kicking points like

they’re in Croke Park! Whatever you see you’ll be guaranteed that they’ll be doing it with a smile on their face.

All Weather Playing Facilities

All Weather Playing Facilities

By Michael Hand

 

Introduction

Since it’s inception, our Club has always been dependent on our local Council, originally Dublin County Council but now Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, for the provision of playing fields.  We are fortunate to have been facilitated by the Council with pitches at Broadford Park, Loreto and Marlay Park.  As many of the leagues are played through the winter months, these pitches had to be preserved for matches and not be subjected to training as well.  Due to poor weather, all these pitches are generally closed for the months of December and January.  Further, Marlay Park is closed in the hours of darkness, and adult teams, who could only train at night due to work commitments, were particularly disadvantaged and struggled to remain competitive.  Given this backdrop, it is not surprising that Club teams were to be found training on various pieces of waste ground, often under the meagre light of street lights.  Accordingly, the Club was always on the lookout for suitable training pitch opportunity.  A number of farmers in the vicinity were approached down through the years, but a recurring issue was the cost and feasibility of flood lighting.

Training Pitch

In 1996 the Club approached Ballinteer Community School (BCS) with a proposal to construct a shared Training Pitch on the footprint of unused basketball courts beside the back gate of the school.  The proposal was for the Club to fund the construction of a 65m x 35m whinstone pitch complete with floodlights.  Accordingly, the school would have exclusive use of the pitch during the school day while the Club could use it for training in the evenings, under lights. Through the good offices of Dr Austen Corcoran, school Principal, the proposal was presented to the Board of Management and was accepted.  Gerry Murphy drew up the plans and submitted the project for Planning Permission which was duly granted.  Given the general scarcity of funds, our Chairman, J J Duffy decided to invoke the ‘Meitheal’ principle which had worked so well on the Áras na nÓg project.  A herringbone drainage system was duly installed and the perimeter was fully kerbed.  A properly engineered stone build-up was laid with the final surface consisting of whinstone grit.  Four lighting columns were installed and floodlights fitted.  The IR£25k final cost reflected the significant voluntary effort and the benevolence of several friends in the construction industry who provided materials and specialist services at cost.  The works were completed in 1998 and the facility proved to be a huge hit with the membership.  In May 1999, the Training Pitch was officially opened by Joe Mac Donagh, GAA President.

All Weather Pitch Project

While the Training Pitch served us well, it was very limited in what could be achieved for adult teams.  Accordingly, our teams often started each new season on the back foot compared to our peer clubs who were increasingly developing full size flood lit synthetic all weather pitches.  It was proving increasingly difficult to generate the early momentum required to win our leagues without spending significant sums in the hire of facilities from other clubs.  The 2005-2010 Strategic Plan therefore had the development of a full size flood lit all weather pitch as a central objective.

The Club conducted a search of the area for possible sites but realised that the cost of land was prohibitive, having been inflated by the construction boom.  We then switched our attention to BCS where the Department of Education and Skills (DoES) had approved a new master plan for the school campus.  This plan had recommended the construction of a new 2-storey school located at the south western corner of the site.  The remainder of the site was to be developed for recreational facilities, including a Gaelic games pitch.  The plan facilitated the construction of the new school building while the existing facilities continued to operate as before.  On completion of the new school, staff and students could be transferred so that the old school could be demolished.  The proposed Gaelic games pitch was to be constructed on the footprint of the old school and was sized as 120m x 80m.  The Club approached the school with a proposal for a joint venture whereby we would upgrade the pitch from the proposed grass surface to full synthetic all weather standard.  Further, floodlighting would be installed and the Club would have exclusive use of the facility outside school hours.  BSJ proposed to fund 90% of the estimated €1m construction cost with BCS/DoES providing the remainder, equivalent to the saving of not having to complete the planned grass pitch.  As BCS were effectively the leaseholder and DoES was the freeholder, any proposal of this nature needed

approval from both parties.  Following initial positive indications from BCS, we prepared a comprehensive Partnership Proposal setting out the technical, legal, financial and operational proposals in detail. The sequence of events which followed is summarised as follows:
• May 2006 – Appointment of Consultants, PH McCarthy Consulting Engineers and Kerrigan Sheanon Newman Quantity Surveyors.
• June 2006 – Formal submission of Partnership Proposal to BCS
• July 2006 – Approval in Principle by the BCS Board of Management subject to DoES approval
• November 2006 – Approval of Proposal by DoES subject to legal agreement.  Planning Application submission
• April 2007 – Planning Permission granted by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
• May 2007 – Club EGM and approval in principle to proceed with the project
• July 2008 – Tenders received and within budget
• September 2008 – Licence Agreement negotiations concluded with BCS and DoES.  New school completed and opened.  Demolition of old building commenced
• May 2009 – Second Club EGM and approval of Licence Agreement terms and the commitment of Club funds to the project
• July 2009 – Formal Licence Agreement signed by BCS, DoES and BSJ.  International Sports Surfaces Ltd (ISS) commenced work on site
• January 2010 – Project completion
• February 2010 – Official Opening by Christy Cooney, GAA President

The advancement of the project was intrinsically linked to the progress of the BCS campus re-development.  The programme for this work was based on a phased hand-over of new facilities in order to ensure continuity of normal school operations.  Due to the construction boom and resultant shortage of skilled labour, the school contractor struggled to maintain programme and the completion of the works was delayed.  We had to await contract completion and site vacation by the school contractor before our contractor could commence works.  However, this period was utilised for fundraising and to complete protracted legal negations on the terms of the Legal Agreement.

Fundraising

The Club was required to raise €900k as DoES had agreed to provide €100k of the overall €1m project cost.  Our fundraising benefited tremendously from the experience gained and the momentum generated during the Clubhouse development.  In particular, the very successful annual Race Day event at Leopardstown had been continued after Clubhouse completion, generating up to €75k per event.  Accordingly, we were fortunate to have over 30% of the projected All Weather Pitch cost in the bank in November 2006, allowing us to apply for a Lottery grant under the 2007 Sports Capital Programme.  A comprehensive submission was prepared in which we detailed out all aspects of the project including design, legal terms, financing, operations and management.  We received terrific support from our local elected public representatives, particularly the late Seamus Brennan, RIP and Tom Kitt, both of whom held ministerial office at this time.  In April 2007, the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism confirmed that we had been approved for a Grant of €300k.  By this time, we already had another successful Race Day event in January 2007 and this was followed with an equally successful 2008 event.  Our last and 9th Race Day event at Leopardstown took place in January 2009 and raised a relatively modest €30k, with numbers being greatly impacted by the effects of the recession.

Concurrent with these fundraising initiatives, the Club made a detailed application to the GAA seeking grant assistance towards the project.  In November 2009, the Leinster Council approved us for a grant of €80k.  The final piece of the funding jigsaw was completed when we held a Monster Draw, raising €30k.  This endeavour was achieved through a club wide ticket sale blitz towards the end of 2009, while the works were under construction.  Indeed, a visit to the Club to inspect the construction works in progress by GAA President, Christy Cooney and County Board CEO, John Costello, on 5th September, greatly assisted us in promoting this fundraising event.  The funding mix therefore consisted of grants (€380k), Club fundraising (€520k) and DoES funds(€100k).  In the final analysis, we had the project fully funded without recourse to borrowing, a terrific achievement.

The ongoing operation and maintenance costs of the facility were the subject of detailed discussion and agreement.  BSJ are responsible for the floodlight costs while the recurring maintenance costs are shared.

Design and Construction

The All Weather Pitch site was relatively flat which minimised development costs once the old school had been demolished and removed.  Also, the prevailing ground conditions were good with no water difficulties. There was ready access to power supply and surface water drainage.  The design of the installation consisted of the following:

• General earthworks consisting of site shaping and grading

• 100mm land drains at 7m centres throughout pitch

• Three layers graded stone build-up on the prepared sub-grade.

• Kerbing and fencing around pitch perimeter

• 65mm ‘Sprinturf 3G’ synthetic polyethylene yarn carpet with rubber crumb infill

• Six 20m high lighting columns to achieve an average lighting level of 350 lux

• ESB sub-station and associated switch room

• Goal posts and ball stop netting in goal areas

• Spectator viewing terrace with leaning bar and two dug-outs

• Remote controlled electronic scoreboard

• Extensive hard and soft landscaping as required under the planning permission

Following competitive tender, the contract was awarded to International Sports Surfaces Ltd (ISS), owned by former Offaly footballer, Kevin Kilmurray, who took a personal interest in ensuring that the facility was constructed to the highest standard.  As the site was levelled and set out, it became clear that sufficient space existed for a full size pitch.  Accordingly, refinements to the design were agreed which allowed the construction of a 130m x 83m playing surface with a 2.5m run-off all around.  Also, judicious placing of the lighting columns on the north side of the pitch facilitated the inclusion of three lockable storage areas for temporary posts and training gear.  Another added bonus was agreement for the conversion of the whinstone Training Pitch to a 60m x 32m synthetic playing to the same standard as the main pitch.

There were a few delays in construction, the first being due to the requirement  to reduce the site levels and remove sufficient excavated materials off site.  This was resolved by a combination of adjusting levels and gradients by negotiation with ISS.  A brief delay also occurred when solid granite bedrock was found in two of the deep lighting column foundations, necessitating removal by rock breaker.  However, the biggest delay arose in the delivery of the carpet from the USA.  The shipping company inadvertently sent our containers to a St Johns school in western Canada and by the time the error was discovered and rectified, almost 2 months were lost.  Accordingly, while programmed completion for the start of the 2009 training season was not possible, the facility was fully commissioned and available for use immediately after the Christmas break.  The delay transpired to be a blessing in disguise from a Club cash flow perspective as it facilitated the conclusion of protracted legal negotiations which eventually culminated in the signing of a Deed of Covenant and Charge and facilitated the release of the Lottery grant funds by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Those responsible for the design and construction of the AWP facilities were the following:

Consulting Engineers – Niall Corrigan / Bill Nolan of PH McCarthy (WYG) Consulting Engineers

Quantity Surveyors – Chris Grady of Kerrigan Sheanon Newman Quantity Surveyors

Legal Advisors – Bríd O’Dwyer of Frank Ward and Company, Solicitors

Main Contractors – Kevin Kilmurray of International Sports Surfaces Ltd

The Club employed Brian Mulcahy as a part-time Resident Engineer to manage the interfaces with BCS and to ensure that top quality construction was achieved throughout.

The All Weather Facilities were delivered to the highest standard and within the original budget.  As a late addition, the Club agreed with BCS to install player’s toilets in a disused corner of the switch room building.  Finally, the budget stretched to a generous upgrade and re-decoration of the adjacent Áras na nÓg changing rooms, completed by McCabe Construction.

Legal Agreement

The legal framing of the joint venture model proved to be a major challenge as this was the first time such a model had been embarked upon.  The inclusion of Lottery funding into the mix further added to the complexity and accordingly the final Legal Agreement involved four sets of legal advisors; Chief State Solicitor’s Office representing DoES, Mason Hayes & Curran representing BCS, Chief State Solicitor’s Office representing the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and Frank Ward and Co representing BSJ.  In the final analysis, the Club came to an agreement which recognises the fact that the All Weather Pitch is constructed on BCS lands and the shared use with the school.  BSJ has unhindered use of the facilities as follows:

– Weekdays during school term – from 5.00pm to 10.30pm

– Saturday and Sunday – from 8-30am to 10-30pm

– School and Bank Holidays – from 8-30am to 10-30pm

BSJ activities within the BCS campus are controlled by 30 year Licence Agreement between DoES, the Trustees of BCS and the Club Trustees.  This Agreement was the first of its kind for a GAA club and took over 2 years of tedious negotiations in order to evolve a workable solution for all parties.  A key provision of the Agreement is that BSJ users only enter BCS campus on foot and that we would not bring vehicles onto the school grounds.  This is also a key condition of the Planning Permission granted for the facilities in April 2007.  Accordingly, the adjacent Áras no nÓg facility is available for use as dressing rooms.

Under the terms of the Agreement, the overall management of the AWP facilities is under the control of an All Weather Pitch Management Committee consisting of two representatives each from BCS and BSJ, with a rotating Chairman.  Our representatives are Frank Sullivan and Michael Hand.  At the commencement of operations and at the beginning of each year, BSJ hold a mentor’s workshop and communicate the Agreement terms together with traffic management requirements, pitch management, and emergency provisions to all Team Mentors. The Mentors, in turn, cascade the information down to Players and Parents.  The Club selected a team of club stalwarts, Peter Byrne, Thomas Hayes, and John Monahan under the leadership of Frank Sullivan, to manage our day to day use of the facilities.

Those Who Served

Over the five year period required to deliver this project, there were many volunteers who contributed, but the following deserve particular mention :

Cathaoirligh : Gerard O’Donnell (2004-2006), Michael Hand (2007-2009), Kieran Duffy (2010-2012)

Rúnaithe : Annette O’Connor (2006-2008), Nora Tully (2009-2011)

Development Committee : Alan Garvin (Chair), Chris Grady, Michael Hand, Tom Hayes, J J Duffy, Pat Smith and Denis Ward.

The Development Committee also led the various fundraising initiatives, assisted by Executive members as the need arose.

Notwithstanding all the efforts of Club members, this project would not have been brought to fruition without the support and commitment of BCS Board of Management and Trustees.  The school Principal and Secretary to the Board of Management, Dr Austen Corcoran embraced the opportunity from the onset and never wavered in his belief that it could be delivered.  In particular, when legal obstacles arose, he was the first to table possible solutions as he brought all his years of experience to bear on the problem.  The Club owes him a great debt of gratitude.

Conclusion

The Official Opening of the new All Weather Facilities was performed by GAA President, Christy Cooney on 13th February 2010.  The event was organised with great precision and attention to detail by Frank Whelan and was hosted in the new school building.  The President roundly praised the Club and the school for the innovation shown in the conception and delivery of the project.  He saw the model of complementary use by school and club communities as an efficient use of scarce resources, particularly in urban situations where land was at a premium.  After speeches in the school hall, the President cut the tape and the facilities were blessed by Fr Colm McGlynn, Marley Parish Priest.  The President then threw in the ball to mark the commencement of a regular Cup fixture between BSJ and St Vincent’s.  BSJ won and, for the record, Paul O’Donnell scored the first point while Daragh Hopkins scored the first competitive goal on the new pitch.

The All Weather Facilities have been a huge success in operation.  The feedback from the players, the ultimate experts, is that the surface is the best artificial surface they have played on.  This is high praise for the careful selection process conducted by the designers and the overall quality of the construction.  For routine training, the two pitches offer great flexibility so that the requirements of all of our 60+ teams can be accommodated. The players are delighted to train of the pitches and getting them to turn up for training in the cold winter nights is no longer a problem.  However, one of the great bonuses has been the ability to run off competitions, irrespective of weather.  When Council pitches are declared unplayable, we can retain home advantage and sometimes offer a venue to the opposition, thus gaining home advantage.  For Go-Games, the main pitch can accommodate three games across the pitch while the small pitch can accommodate one more.

The completion of the All Weather pitches represents a fitting finish to state of the art school campus which is now among the best equipped second level schools in the country.