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This Friday, February 19, is a very special day in the life of St Breckans GAA club.

Fifty years ago on this date the club which caters for the Lisdoonvarna and Doolin areas was founded and there are many plans to celebrate this special year.

COVID-19 restrictions will be adhered to and, already, some of the planned celebrations have had to be altered.

Paul O’Loughlin, who is in his second year as club chairman, is confident, that the members will mark this very special year in the club’s history. One of five brothers who, in his own words, are all “football mad”, the chairman now sees his own children playing at underage level for the club.

Paul played at all levels for the club and was a member of the team which contested the 1996 Clare senior final when they lost out to Doonbeg. “That was in the year of our 25th anniversary. I went to the U.S. in 1997 before returning home after ten years and I immediately got involved again. After being a member of the executive in recent years, I was elected chairman last year and fill this position again this year. One never forgets their home club and when one emigrates you see both sides”, the chairman told the Clare Echo this week.

“Our original celebration plans included a dinner dance for this Friday night but that had to be cancelled due to Covid. We hope to re-organise the event towards the end of the year. On this Friday we will be doing a lot of stuff on social media. Former players will be recalling high points and this should prove interesting for all our members and followers”, explained Paul.

“The GAA club is such a huge part of parish life. We have a great underage structure in place, we have good numbers and there is a huge amount of work being done. We also have great structures in place at adult level”, according to the chairman.

Amongst those who are providing great assistance in the developing of these structures are senior panellists Mark O’Donnell and Conor Shannon. “Mark is the games development officer in Limerick I.T. while Conor is the games development officer with Laois GAA. We are getting the best out of these lads”.

It is hoped to produce a club history at the end of the year. “Kenneth Flanagan is currently working on this and he is also working on the compilation of a story board”. It is also planned to dedicate the stand at the club grounds to the late Frank Sheedy who gave many years of commitment to the club in a variety of positions. A memorial underage tournament is also planned in Frank’s memory.

“We also hope to re-open the sports complex which has been upgraded with the addition of new dressing rooms. A new gym has also been put in place. The complex was build in 1974 under the direction of our first chairman, Tom Tarpey. A number of high profile challenge games are also planned”.

The chairman agrees that “A great way to mark this 50th anniversary occasion would be to win a major Clare championship. Our senior team, which came very close to winning last year, has a great age profile and we have good management. We have lots of players on the county senior and under 20 panels. It’s great for the young lads in the club to see so many of the older players on county panels”.

These may well be quiet times in the world of gaelic games and while it is unclear as to when action on the playing fields will return, the members and followers of St. Breckans will have plenty to discuss in what is a very special year for the North Clare club.

For the record first chairman Tom Tarpey was joined on the executive by the late Paddy Garrihy (secretary) and the late Jim Hillery (treasurer).

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