BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CHRISTY Collins has held many roles with Castlehaven GAA over the years and the latest title to add to the list is tour guide.
Last Friday afternoon the current club chairman gave The Southern Star a tour of Castlehaven’s impressive new club facilities at Moneyvollahane that include a covered all-seater stand that seats over 670 people, new home dressing-room, meeting room and gym.
This end product is the result of two years of hard work for a club that pulled together to create a facility that, Collins says, is for the entire parish to enjoy.
‘If you go to Kerry or Tipperary or wherever, you see GAA grounds with stands and top-class facilities and there’s no reason why clubs here in West Cork can’t think big too,’ Collins said.
‘It’s also a facility for the local community to use as well, for the parish to get enjoyment out of. Any organisation in the parish that needs anything, for training, aerobics, just a walk around the place, it’s here for them.’
Collins remembers when Castlehaven, as county champions in 2012 and 2013, had to give up home advantage in the Munster Club SFC series as Moneyvollahane didn’t meet the required standards for provincial games; the ground didn’t have a stand. Instead, the Haven played both Dromcollogher-Broadford of Limerick and Stradbally of Waterford in Clonakilty, as Ahamilla ticked all the boxes.
‘We had to give up home advantage in 2012, we didn’t have a stand then in our place and while Clonakilty has a great set-up, it still wasn’t our home and we were missing out,’ Collins said.
‘I remember back in 1993 when Dr Crokes came to Skibbereen and the town was packed; it was a great occasion.
‘In 2013 we qualified then to play Dr Crokes in their place in Killarney and they have a big stand there and a fine set-up. We went over the road to Killarney Legion to tog out before the game and we saw they’d a fine stand there as well.
‘There was no reason we couldn’t have something likewise so we sat down and worked out a plan.’
The first phase of Castlehaven’s redevelopment was adding a sand-based training pitch – located beside the main playing field – including substantial drainage that was needed to deal with the flow of water that, in times past, would have flooded that area of ground. That was completed at a cost of €53,000 and that debt was paid off.
Then the club turned its focus towards its biggest ever undertaking – the construction of a covered stand and an overhaul of the existing club building.
A Sports Capital Grant of €121,000 was acquired in 2014 with this going towards the work on the main building – the new home dressing-room including shower and toilet facilities, a makeover to the existing dressing-rooms, a meeting room, a gym upstairs and an overhaul of the club house.
The meeting room leads off from the end of the home dressing room and this will be used for club meetings, team meetings, etc.
The upstairs gym is spacious and kitted out with all the equipment needed and it also overlooks the new stand and main playing field, and double glass doors lead out to the stand, joining the two developments.
The covered stand is impressive, the name Haven spelled out in blue with the rest of the seats white; these seats were bought from the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh before its redevelopment started.
Castlehaven GAA is currently selling sponsorship for the seats in the stand at €100 per seat to help finance this new development. For more details contact Christy Collins (087-1313030), Batt Maguire (087-2021004) or Denis Harnedy (086-1060134).
‘We sent out forms to everyone in the parish and that’s going well. If anyone in West Cork would like to sponsor a seat, we’d be delighted,’ Collins said.
The plan is for the names of all those who sponsor a seat to go on a plaque at the club.
There are five small rooms under the stand that will also be used for various purposes.
For part two of this progressive development, the covered stand, Castlehaven took out a Croke Park loan of €120,000, received a Munster grant of €21,000, personal donations amounted to €25,000 and the local race committee donated €5,000. The approx cost of material sponsored is €30,000.
The local community pulled together for this project, explains Collins, with local tradesmen volunteering their services for free while the indoor tiles were sponsored by Ger Buckley of Criaga Tiles and Vivian O’Callaghan of Tile Haven (club sponsors) and the roof slate and sheeting for the stand was sponsored by Cembrit, with Cormac Murphy the MD of this company.
The end result is that Castlehaven GAA now has a home that stands out for several reasons.