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Further progress at Fr McNamara park ‘a silver lining in difficult year’ – O’Donnell

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*Clare camogie chairperson Joe O’Donnell. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Additional work completed at the grounds of Clare camogie during lockdown brought ‘a silver lining to an otherwise difficult year’.

This was the view expressed by Chairperson of the County Board, Joe O’Donnell during his address at the Clare Camogie AGM which was held virtually for the first time.

Priorities for Fr McNamara Park at the beginning of 2020 included the improvement of the playing surface, installation of a scoreboard, bringing the second pitch up to standard for training and warm-ups, installing gates and fencing to close off the gas-tank and back of the building plus a repositioning of the fence close to the pitch entrance.

In April, the pitch was scarified, spiked, sanded, and fertilized in April. The scoreboard was installed and was working when games resumed. The second pitch was cut, cleared and reseeded but members of the development committee have flagged that drainage is a serious concern. “Because of the nature of the site that it is on, and the limitations that may bring, we are making all reasonable efforts to acquire any records that may inform us of the situation. This has proved a major frustration and has held up progress,” a report from the development committee outlined.

Speaking at the AGM, O’Donnell acknowledged that the committee completed improvements to the playing surface. “This was done during the shutdown period and it was the silver lining of an otherwise dark period. A lot of other improvements and reclamation of the “second” pitch were undertaken. For this we are indebted to not only the Committee but a host of other volunteers who genuinely gave of their time and grabbed a shovel. It is worth noting here that we have Ennis Mens’ Shed as new neighbours and we have been collaborating with them to our mutual benefit. I thank them sincerely for their advice and collaboration. There is still a lot of work to be done and the Fr. McNamara Field Committee will continue to develop the entire site for the benefit of our players”.

Reflecting on activities on the pitch, the Cratloe clubman pinpointed the provincial success of the Clare minor camogie team along with notable victories for the senior and junior sides in the National Leagues. The ability for the senior panel to raise €6000 for charity was lauded by O’Donnell. “That act alone shows that these players are not only dedicated in their efforts to perform at the highest standards in Camogie, but also are well-grounded in recognizing the needs of those less fortunate”.

A second lockdown interrupted the championship aspirations of the Juniors. “The Junior team was cruelly prevented by an Ard Chomhairle decision from completing their championship. To say this was a huge disappointment is an understatement. My heart goes out to the management and players, as they had put in a huge effort in a difficult year, and it was just ripped away from them,” Joe stated.

Clare reaching the All-Ireland senior quarter-finals was “an important achievement,” O’Donnell commented. “I know that the team sees it as a stepping stone to further advancement in the future”.

Co-operation from clubs and the ‘effective organisation’ of the Fixtures Committee allowed championships in Clare to run smoothly, he felt. Gratitude was also extended to the County Executive, local media, Careerwise, players, mentors and volunteers.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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