Stars come out for astro turf pitch

January 21st, 2023 9:30 AM

By Emma Connolly

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A lipsync fundraiser taking place this weekend, in aid of a new astro turf pitch, has further united the tight-knit people of Kilmacabea, who are working together to create a legacy for generations to come 

TWO West Cork groups have teamed up to kickstart their fundraising campaign for a much-needed astro turf for the communities of Leap and Glandore.

Kilmacabea GAA, in association with Leap and Glandore Community Council, are running a lipsync event on January 21st called LeapSync.

High-profile judges for the sell-out event, which has really captured the imagination of all members of the community, are musician Jake Carter, local piano sensation Racheal O’Donovan and Olympian Rob Heffernan.

Organisers of the event on January 21st said the need for an astro turf pitch had become glaringly obvious over recent times, for younger players, but indeed those of all ages. 

Kilmacabea GAA has always catered for boys aged five years old right up to junior men. Girls played from five years up to U12 on the boy’s teams. However, if they wanted to continue playing football they had to move to clubs such as Castlehaven, Rosscarbery and O’Donovan Rossa. 

‘In 2022, a dream became a reality when we finally started ladies football in Kilmacabea, starting with U8, U10 and our hugely successful U12 girls,’ explained Donie O’Donovan. 

‘In 2023 we aspire to field a girls U14 team and over the coming years our hope is to eventually field girls’ teams in all age grades, right through to adult level for ladies. This would mean over the coming years we will be doubling our playing numbers. So, with that in mind, we need to improve our facilities in Leap to match that growth.’

The U12 girl’s Kilmacabea team had a very special 2022 as a new team on the Gaelic football scene. ‘However, winter came and so too did disappointment from all our underage players that training was no longer feasible during these dark, wet evenings. They missed the camaraderie with their new friends and coaches. It was difficult to explain to them that they would have to wait until March to resume training,’ said Ailleen O’Brien. 

The club saw another exciting new development recently with ‘A Mothers & Others’ team, with over 60 participants currently on a WhatsApp group – some of these from neighbouring clubs. But after just two training sessions on the pitch in October, the group hit a roadblock as the pitch in Kilmacabea was simply too wet to continue training on, and they had to resume training on the astro in Rosscarbery and Skibbereen on a weekly basis. 

‘On certain weeks some of the U12 girls came along and it was something special seeing mothers and daughters from the community and further afield playing football together. Thus, the conversation began about astro turf pitches and the feasibility and possibility of having a facility like this in our local community to keep our young children engaged in sport throughout the year,’ explained Ailleen. 

Having supported Ross and Ilen Rovers hugely successful Lipsync events and after speaking to both clubs, and getting their positive feedback and advice, it was all systems go. 

The planning and organising of this event is a joint initiative by Kilmacabea GAA along with Leap & Glandore Community Council. A committee chaired by John O’Donovan was formed with Julie O’Mahony who pulled out all the stops with her panto expertise, Agnieszka Cebo with her design skills and Denise French looking after social media, to name but a few. Every member had something amazing to add. Relentless time has been put into this event to make it a success by all the committee members.

There will be 11 acts taking part on the night from Connonagh, Ardfield, Skibbereen, Leap NS, Kilmacabea GAA and the Mothers & Others team. 

‘They are rehearsing around the clock! One family in Maulthrane have both parents on rival teams and their four kids are involved in the practice sessions at home!’ said Ailleen. 

Each team has chosen a beneficiary close to their hearts to donate the €1,000 prize fund to, which has kindly been sponsored by West Cork Distillers.

A transition year team from Mount Saint Michael in Rosscarbery are taking part to remember their late school friend Rhys Hawkins and hoping to claim the prize to donate to Crumlin Children’s Hospital in his memory.

Glandore National School have their eye on the prize to help with the provision of equipment required for a special unit/classroom planned for construction this summer. A group of Kilmacabea U21 lads are hopeful their endeavours will pay off and the prize with be given to the RNLI. There is a huge list of charities to benefit from this night including CoAction, Ross Meals on Wheels, Cancer Connect, West Cork Rapid Response, Air Ambulance, Ronald McDonald House, Cancer Research and Lisheens House Skibbereen. 

Martina French’s group ‘Jungle Jokers’ said: ‘We wish to support two charities which have had a huge impact on members of our family and community over this past year – the Irish Community Air Ambulance and the Ronald McDonald house’. Club chairman William Williamson said: ‘This is the first step in the fundraising project. It would be great to see the astro pitch developed in the next few years. It will a great legacy to all involved in LeapSync, there for generations to come.’

James Ronan, a member of Leap & Glandore Community Council concluded: ‘The encouragement and backing from local businesses, local people and even businesses further afield has been so heart-warming. Their generosity with sponsorship towards the event needs to applauded and recognised. Without this it would not have been possible. It proves that when everybody rows in what can be achieved in a small community.’

• Leap LipSync takes place in the West Cork Hotel on January 21st at 8pm. Donations can be made on the night or to any committee member

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