JUST like the O’Donovan Rossa ladies’ football team is hitting all the right notes on the pitch, the club itself is working hard off the pitch to put on a show at Rossa Park this Saturday.
‘This is probably the biggest game that has ever been played in the Rossa Park to date, so it’s a privilege for us all to be organising this,’ explained Ian O’Regan, as the Skibbereen club prepares to host the All-Ireland junior club championship semi-final between the Rossas and Wexford club Gusserane.
While Skibb manager James O’Donovan is putting the final touches on his team’s preparations for their homecoming of sorts – they have won Cork and Munster titles in recent weeks – the club is also busy making sure that Saturday’s game runs smoothly.
When O’Donovan Rossa won the Munster title last month, the club committee started putting in place a plan for this home game, all dependent on Skibb winning away to Glasgow Gaels in the All-Ireland quarter-final last weekend. After the team kept up their end of the bargain, the organising committee kicked into action.
‘It was a case of putting the plan in action, and that covers a whole host of areas – contact with the LGFA regarding their requirements, stewarding, parking arrangements and so on,’ O’Regan explains.
‘There’s a lot of work involved, but the opportunity to host a game like this is a challenge a lot of clubs would love to have. There has been so much help from everyone involved in the club; we reached out to the men’s side and the underage side, and everyone is only too delighted to get involved.’
This is the ideal platform for O’Donovan Rossa to showcase their impressive facilities at Rossa Park, and a huge crowd is expected to throng the Skibb venue for the 1.30pm throw-in.
In 2019 the ground hosted the huge West Cork derby clash of Castlehaven and Carbery Rangers, with over 2000 supporters in attendance, and a similar, if not bigger, crowd is expected on Saturday. Not only is this an All-Ireland club semi-final in West Cork, and a chance for the home team to reach an All-Ireland final, but given the local ladies’ football boom in recent years, this game will appeal to many neutrals, too. Add in this year is the 30th anniversary of O’Donovan Rossa men’s team winning the All-Ireland senior club title (1993), and the scale of Saturday’s game becomes apparent.
‘We would envisage a huge crowd at this game because this team has captured the imagination locally, and the football they are playing is so entertaining as well. The interest locally is massive, so we are expecting a big crowd, not just from our own club but from local clubs as well,’ Ian O’Regan says.
‘The big issue is managing traffic before and after the game, that’s where our priority is this week, to make sure people can access the facilities safely. It looks like the weather forecast is good, and that would be great.
‘We will use the Riverside complex and the Marsh Road for parking, and we would strongly encourage locals to walk to the game if possible, and to get in early.’
More good news is that despite all the rain in recent weeks the pitch is in good condition too, and O’Regan is full of praise for the club’s fundraising and hard work that has given it the platform to showcase their grounds in an All-Ireland semi-final. It’s a team effort in Skibb, on and off the pitch.