THEY may not have been able to have the big birthday party they had planned, but Ballinascarthy GAA Club still marked a special occasion in style recently.
September 12th marked the 75th anniversary of the club’s first meeting and it had been hoped that they could host a large gathering, but the onslaught of Covid-19 and resultant limitations meant that that wasn’t possible.
There was some club activity, however, as they played Argideen Rangers in the Carbery JAFC at Newcestown, and club members home and abroad were asked to hang up their brightest red and white colours, on their clothing or with flags outside their house.
A golf classic was another planned event which fell to Covid but earlier this year the club did produce a high-quality calendar, charting the events of the past three-quarters of a century.
Joe Ryan is one the members driving the anniversary committee.
‘Celebrating 75 years is special for a club the size of ours,’ he says.
‘It was something we started preparing for the end of last year – 2019 was a great year on the field for the club and we had hoped to use that momentum in organising a few events for 2020 and hopefully raising the profile of the club. As we are a small, dual junior club, success doesn't come easy and I think it's important to mark these occasions.
‘The camogie club celebrated their 50th anniversary last year and are a great source of pride for the community.’
The GAA is full of units that have to reply on limited manpower and Ballinascarthy have faced – and overcome – quite a few challenges.
‘Like many other small rural clubs there are always challenges in maintaining membership and managing and developing the underage,’ Ryan says.
‘We are in a rather unique position of not being a parish and therefore not having a national school to draw from, which has always been a huge challenge. In more recent years, we have amalgamated at underage with our neighbours St Oliver Plunkett’s, forming Owen Gaels. This allows our underage players to play and compete at a level that we wouldn't have the numbers for.’
The first elected officers of the club were chairman M Cahalane, vice-chairman JJ Holland, secretary DD Walsh and treasurer D Ryan and those names have carried on through the generations.
‘We know that the club’s first meeting was held on September 12th, 1945,’ Joe Ryan says, ‘and that date fell on last Saturday this year, which would’ve been an ideal opportunity to hold something.
‘We have the original minutes from that first meeting framed in Ballinascarthy Community Hall and as with a lot of clubs in rural Ireland it shows there is a tradition of representing Ballinascarthy GAA that runs through generations of families.
‘We can see that from the founding members of the club, a lot of those surnames can be seen throughout the club today.’
And, all going well, Ryan hopes the same names will be to the fore in 75 years’ time, too.
‘The club is in a good place at the moment and long may it last,’ he says.
‘We are realistic about the challenges ahead. There is a good committee in place, particularly the lotto committee which the club relies heavily on.
‘As a small dual club, success doesn't happen every year and a lot of things have to fall in place in order for us to be successful. Success comes in cycles for small clubs like ours and we have a talented group of players at the moment and hopefully we are in one of those cycles.
‘We are very grateful to the continued support we receive from past players and members at home and abroad and here's to another 75 years of Ballinascarthy GAA!’