BY CATHERINE KETCH
CORK’S newest GAA club Laochra Óg celebrated its first birthday on Sunday, also launching its website and online shop.
The hurling club which draws membership from four Mid Cork parishes – Clondrohid, Macroom, Cill na Martra and Baile Bhúirne – was born on January 28th, 2014 and has gone from strength to strength.
Tracy Kennedy, vice chairperson of the Cork County Board, described the occasion as ‘very, very special and historic’, pointing to what a success the year has been for the new club, referring to the huge undertaking which she said was very rare. It was only the third new club in the county in recent times, she pointed out.
‘There is great credit due to the people who took on that challenge, who weren’t afraid of taking on the difficulties and challenges involved,’ Ms Kennedy said.
There would be no Laochra Óg without the chairman, who put more time and effort in than almost everyone else put together, the large gathering at the Riverside Park Hotel, Macroom, was told.
Deeply rooted in sport including football and hurling, from Rosegreen, Co Tipperary, Liam Slattery is at the helm of the new club.
Mr Slattery described setting up the club as an ‘absolutely enormous task’. He outlined how he and his wife, who worked at the former General Instrument plant, arrived in Clondrohid parish in 2002, joining Clondrohid GAA Club.
Touching briefly on the history Mr Slattery outlined that as time went on he spent a bit a more time helping out the hurling side of the club ‘with vast numbers turning up from the three schools in the parish’.
‘The people running the club felt that the club needed to go in a different direction,’ Mr Slattery said adding that ‘unfortunately with an AGM in 2013 there was an inevitable split in the club.
‘Like any split it was never going to be nice. It was never going to be easy but we felt it was the best way to proceed with hurling not just in Clondrohid but we quickly realised we needed to promote hurling just outside the parish of Clondohid into the neighbouring parishes of Cill na Martra, Baile Bhúirne and Macroom.’
It was blatantly obvious, Mr Slattery said, that there was a massive gap from a county perspective in hurling in the area.
The proposal for a new club was accepted by the county board and the rest is history. Their mammoth task included jerseys, sponsorship, fundraising, registering players and promotion.
They had until just the end of March to get teams entered into competition and on March 30th the U14 team achieved the status of becoming the first team to represent Laochra Óg on the playing field.
‘Numbers and registrations kept coming,’ Mr Slattery said and at the end of the year there were over 300 members.
The adult junior B team won the club’s first competitive championship match against Crosshaven. Trainer Donal Roche received a presentation on behalf of the club for his tremendous work.
Easter camps, summer camps and an U12 blitz followed, all providing excellent sporting opportunities for the younger players and 40 children were taken to see Cork and Waterford playing a game en route in Liam Slattery’s home village of Rosegreen.
McCarthys provided a field at Tirbeg, Macroom, which sorted the home grounds. Naomh Abán and Macroom GAA also lent the use of fields for the new club. ‘We were really stuck for home grounds,’ Mr Slattery said.
Elaina Lucey, who won the competition for the design of the crest, had the honour of officially cutting the first birthday cake complete with crest.
Tribute was also paid to Ian Keoghan, the brains behind the website and online shop, ably assisted by Brian O’Donoghue and Daniel McSweeney.
Volunteers are encouraged to join the club to carry out a huge range of tasks.
Speakers included JJ Long, Muskerry Board, and Gerard Healy, Coiste na nÓg Contae Chorcaí.
‘Hit off your right side. Hit off your left side. Do all the simple things right and you can turn on to fancier things,’ Briege Corkery advised.
The latter could be a motto for the well-formed club!