At a time when some GAA clubs across the county are struggling with numbers because of emigration, St Patrick’s Ardagh GFC appears to be bucking the trend.
Earlier this year, the club established a new minor club, St Patrick’s Óg, and in the last few months a number of volunteers have joined forces to set up St Brigid’s. Gaels – a new Ladies GAA club, which will follow on from the fine tradition of ladies GAA in Ardagh some years back.
The club has many volunteers who help out in many different ways and a major fundraising initiative is currently in place to give the financial side of things a timely boost.
A fully restored 1964 John Deere tractor will be the star attraction of the fundraiser and club members are busy across the country selling tickets for the raffle which takes place next October.
Club Chairman, Declan Kenny said, “Our current facilities are the product of the work of several generations of club members and parishioners in Ardagh. In recent years a huge amount of work has gone into the development of our grounds to provide our community with a sports facility that the parish can be proud of.”
St Patrick’s GFC’s facilities play a very important role in the picturesque south Longford community and is accessed by other bodies in the area, including Age Action and Community Games.
The newly erected stone faced wall at the front of the club grounds has added to the visual environment of the area and has the approval of the local Tidy Towns organisation.
“We have developed very strong links with other organisations in the parish and we want that to continue into the future; in a small rural parish this is vital, particularly in times like these, when people rely more on each other,” Mr Kenny continued.
“On behalf of the club I would particularly like to thank all our club sponsors who continue to support us during these difficult economic times.”
Henry Vaughan, chairman of the newly formed St Patrick’s Óg club, also spoke about the establishment of the minor club and the plans that are in place to develop their underage teams.
“The decision to move ahead with the minor club was a natural progression with the future strengthening of our senior club in mind,” he explained.
“Members had the view that we should field our own under-age teams that would feed into the senior team and encourage players to aspire to the green and gold.
“We had an overwhelming response to the idea and got the unanimous backing of all our members, so we launched St Patrick’s Óg in January 2012.”
Thereafter a series of local fundraising initiatives to get the sides’ up and running followed, and many locals gave their own money to purchase a new kit.
The club is most grateful to the Supporters Club and their generous members. Currently fielding teams from U8 to minor at varying levels, St Patrick’s Óg has been going from strength to strength in the few short months since its inception back in January.
“The main plan at this stage is to continue developing the club and improve the facilities as we go along, so that we can provide a solid platform for our underage players. We are very happy with the numbers and the outlook for St Patrick’s Óg is very positive at the moment,” Mr Vaughan added.
St Patrick’s GFC facilities boast two all-weather Prunty pitches, state of the art clubhouse and grounds new viewing stand and running track, the future looks very bright indeed.