LOUGH Derg FC was started in 2002 by a small committee to coach a handful of 12 year-olds.
Ten years later the Killaloe/Ballina club’s membership is over 250 - adults and children.
As a club without a ground of its own, the dream for Lough Derg FC has been to find and develop a sports facility for its members that it can call home.
After years of hard work this dream is about to become a reality, says Alfie Byrne, chairman. “Two full size grass pitches and trainings pitches are being constructed and prepared in preparation for the 2014 season.
“It’s fair to say that the dream would have taken longer to come to fruition had the club not co-operated with Killaloe Ballina RFC and the local scout troop - 5th/22nd Clare Troop - to form part of a joint community initiative, now known as Clarisford Park,” said Mr Byrne. A steering group involving the three groups and led by Killaloe native and former Irish and Lions rugby legend, Keith Wood, was formed to deliver a state of art sports and recreation facility for the people of Killaloe/Ballina.
The project involves developing a 26 acre site to provide playing pitches, training area, scouting facilities, walks and forest trails and car parking. An all weather pitch and a sports pavilion are the next phase that the group will commence shortly.
“After a long and protracted planning process and a difficult construction phase the group is about to deliver the first element of this exciting development. Next month the first seeded area, a special rubber crumb and sand based pitch will come on stream. This should be a very special moment for those who have worked so hard to make this happen,” said Mr Byrne.
“The assistance and support of many landowners in the locality and the management of St Anne’s Community College is greatly appreciated and acknowledged by present and past members in helping us get Lough Derg FC to this stage,” he added,
Paul Coughlan, treasurer, noted that the majority of their league teams have to travel to all-weather facilities to train during the winter.
“This involves a 30 mile once-a-week round trip for a very dedicated group of parents, coaches and players. The travel and cost involved is a big outlay for all concerned. The ability to utilise local facilities will be of great help and benefit to all in the club,” said Mr Coughlan.
Bobby Lynch, PRO, said FAI CEO, John Delaney, and Irish greats, Ray Houghton and John Aldridge, have also visited Clarisford Park and given the community’s hard work the thumbs up.