Hopefully 2020 will go down in history as a once off year! The Covid pandemic with the consequent lock-down, notwithstanding the subsequent return of activities in June, put a huge strain on all our members. But, it has also strengthened us as a community-based club which reached out and helped the more vulnerable in the community through the delivery of shopping and medicines to elderly and sick people who were restricted to their homes.
We did, however, get all our teams back out training and that has meant so much to all our families who really appreciate the work done to ensure a safe return to sport. Our voluntary effort across the Club in 2020 is to be commended and for that, your Club executive is extremely grateful.
Notwithstanding COVID-19, we can look back on this year with a strong degree of pride and look forward to 2021 with great hope and enthusiasm. COVID did turn our world upside down – our response to that showed just how resilient a club we now are. Many of our members had additional responsibilities, from home schooling (what a challenge for parents and pupils!) to the efforts to quietly look after elderly family members or neighbours. Our young people protected their grandparents by staying away and sacrificed visiting friends or training and playing with their teammates. This showed them at their best.
Our juvenile teams also had to suffer their season being cancelled with the second wave of Covid. Having to cope with such challenges has made every one of our members stronger people and this can only be good for our club as we head into 2021 in good spirit.
- The community effort made by the club to help others was tremendous. We had 60 volunteers who shopped or delivered medicines on 900 occasions.
- We raised €2,500 for the Robert Emmet Foundation which provides food parcels in the South inner city.
- We organised Zoom quizzes, walks and book collections to keep spirits up during lock-down (while raising funds for worthwhile charities).
While opportunities to play games were severely restricted, we can report on the following:
- The highlight has to be the way we managed to get all our teams back to training in a safe and professional manner after lock-down. This was only possible through the voluntary work of COVID Supervisors – they are all heroes in our Club and a thank you at your next training session is the least they deserve!
- We finally started to get to grips with Cornelscourt this year and as we approach year end, the place has never looked better. We purchased a ride-on mower during the summer and after clearing out the overgrown areas, we have regained the whole field for our games. We know first-hand how much team mentors and players appreciate the efforts made by the “mower squad”.
- We replaced the old ball stop and now hurling can return to Cornelscourt.
- We painted the walls and put up Club Signs around the pitch.
- We have started to make Ballyogan our home for many of our games which is a great move forward.
- We had our first adult hurling team game in the club in over 40 years. We have a very enthusiastic group of hurlers and mentors eagerly looking forward to 2021 when we will have a team in the Dublin league.
The great work done off the pitch or at pitch side is to enable our teams play our national games. We now have more men, women, boys and girls playing in club colours than at anytime in our long history. That gives us great confidence as we prepare for a new season.
It is clear, that despite a narrow loss after extra time in the semi-final of the Junior Championship, our adult teams made further progress this year. We had an influx of players from the 2018 and 2019 minor teams that has now added great depth to our two squads and there is great determination within the teams to take the club to the next level of competition.
We highlighted last year how the development of the Gaelic for Mothers and Others (GFMO) was a great boost for the club. This group has bonded further during 2020, helped by their children being active in our Academy and Juvenile teams and there has been a great turnout at training. There is such positivity in this group, with so many getting involved in other aspects of the club – especially in the juvenile sector – that it can only be good for our Club.
Boys Football & Hurling
While COVID robbed the club of appearing in its first ever Hurling Féile na Gáel, the year also marked another solid year of steady growth. Our under 16 footballers have reached the championship semi-final and this will be played off in early 2021. Well done to all our teams.
We now have five teams in action and all reports back to the club show how positive these young people are about the club and the delight they take in representing us. Well done to all involved.
We are glad to report that the attraction of Gaelic games appears to be stronger than ever. We have an U7 team honing their skills for go-games next year: we have an U6 group which is taking shape for 2022 and we have over sixty children every week at the nursery, which is an unprecedented number. Based purely on the academy, the future looks bright.
Club’s Financial Position
As will be shown at our upcoming AGM the club, despite the loss of most of our fundraising activities this year, the club remains solvent thanks mainly to prudent financial management by the Executive. As our fundraising capacity may be limited again next year and it will be difficult to plan a golf outing in May until we know more about COVID restrictions, we will participate in the GAA National Draw where all proceeds of tickets are retained by the club. We will also do more to encourage our members to participate in our on-line lotto.
Looking To 2021
While competitions may be interrupted in the early part of next year, we must remain confident that we will see the club colours in far more action next year. We will prepare all teams to play to their optimum and that is all we ask of all our teams. In addition, we need to re-focus our work in areas such as
- Our ability to fund-raise in a COVID environment
- Marketing the club and doing more to build the club brand
- Adult Ladies’ football is something that needs to be progressed
- Developing a clear camogie strategy
- We need more all-weather facilities
- We need to see how we can grow the club in our southern hinterland of Cherrywood
- We need to continue to work with Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Council on developing changing rooms in Ballyogan
A word of thanks
The club executive would like to mention the following and to thank them for their contribution to the club this year.
- Those involved in the Community effort and the COVID response within the club.
- Our team sponsors who came on board during the year. Sponsorship underpins a lot of what we can do as a club.
- All our mentors, administrators and COVID supervisors – they provide the support which every team in the club needs.
- Johnny Magee: we are indeed fortunate to have a wonderful and resourceful individual involved as GDO of our club.
- Patsy Mooney. Patsy cut the grass in Cornelscourt for over fifty years and but for Covid, would probably be still doing it. We will mark Patsy’s contribution to the club when we can gather safely.
- Our Child Welfare Officer Patricia Kelly had to step back from her role this year and while we miss her greatly, we are so thankful for what she has done to set up our child protection and welfare procedures. Patricia, of course, remains a driving force in the juvenile sector of the club.
- Padraig Flynn: Pee, as he was better known, has stepped back from managing our Adult Div. 6 team. The Kerry native took that job at short notice and in difficult circumstances and did a great job with the team and we remain hopeful of Pee getting back involved with the club in the future.
- Brian Digney retired from active duty with our senior team this year. We wish the Down man the very best and hope he will be back at some stage.
A number of our members had their years interrupted by injury. We want to wish a speedy recovery to Kevin O’Callaghan, Brian Casey, Conor Ring, Conor Keane – all from our adult team – and Liam Flannery (U 16). We also send best wishes to all our juvenile members who have been ill or injured during the year, or undergoing operations etc.
Remembering Those Who Passed
Some of our members had family bereavements this year and as we come to the end of the year, we know they are in your thoughts. We want to pay tribute to three people for whom The Gers was a very important part of their lives:
- Rose Nolan, whose husband Brian is our club president was part of that duo that kept the club alive in the 1950s. She was a wonderful person to meet who enjoyed our social gatherings down through the years and she had a lot of friends in the club.
- Paddy Murphy: The Wexford native played with the Club in the 1970s and 1980s and worked for many years in the Magic Carpet. Paddy was a soft-spoken gentleman who had a great interest all his life in the fortunes of The Gers.
- Des Philpott: Des was a familiar figure around Cornelscourt and played for the club in the 1970s and for many years organised our golf outings. He was a great character despite having a difficult early life when he and his brothers were put into the Letterfrack industrial school.
- We also recognise all our members – especially our juvenile members – who lost family members this year. While we don’t think it suitable to name them in this report, they are in our thoughts and prayers.
We want to thank everyone in the club and look forward to your continued involvement in the years ahead.
John Mc Cabe
(on behalf of Geraldines Patrick Moran Club Executive)