The parish of Ogonnelloe, located on the showers of Lough Derg in East Clare, is one of the smallest in the county.
Like all parishes throughout Ireland, the GAA club plays a major part in parish life and Ogonnelloe GAA club is one of the oldest in the country having been in existence long before the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in 1884. The club contested the first Clare hurling final in 1887 and since then has enjoyed its ups and downs.
For underage hurling (under 11 to under 17), the club is amalgamated with neighbours Scariff and the Scariff-Ogonnelloe teams has enjoyed some great successes in modern times. “We don’t have the numbers to sustain fielding underage teams on our own, hence the amalgamation with Scariff and so far it is working well”, club secretary Alan Maher explained.
At adult level the club competes in the junior A hurling competitions and this year (2021) for the first time in a number of years, the club will have a second adult team which will compete at junior C level. “Because of Covid and restrictions on travel together with the fact that many people must work from home, we have numbers and this has led to the affiliation of a second adult team” the secretary stated.
Recently the club launched a development plan which will see the erection of a 40×20 indoor astro turf facility. “We recently completed a hurling wall and this will be incorporated into the astro turf development. We have applied for a sports capital grant and this week we are launching a national fundraiser in aid of the project, which is expected to cost in the region of €220,000, This fundraiser see us raffling a garden room plus €5,000 (total value €20,000), Alan told the Clare Echo.
The club has just published it’s first newsletter “to keep parishioners informed of progress on and off the field. The development will boost the community which has welcomed many new families in recent times”.
Interestingly the club chairman, secretary and treasurer are all newcomers to the area. Kilkenny man P.J. Delaney is the club chairman and one of the driving forces of the new development. Club secretary Alan Maher is a Kerry native while treasurer Vincent Grady hails from Laois.
“A lot of people are setting up homes in this parish which is very welcoming to all. Last weekend we had 65 children between the ages of 5 and 11 attend the first session of our academy for this year,” Alan outlined.
“We have a sand based pitch and dressing rooms of which we are very proud. We have recently installed a gym which our adult players will get to use for the first time this year. The pitch is located adjacent to the local national school which is a huge help to the club. The facilities will be available to the school and to our entire community,” the secretary added.
The club hit a high point in the 90’s when they competed at senior level. Since then they dropped down to intermediate and some years ago went back to junior where they compete at present.
Ogonnelloe is, understandably, very proud of it’s contribution to Clare GAA. The Forde brothers, the Sheedys and John McKenna are some of the club players who played for Clare.
In recent years Liam Harte and Gearoid Sheedy have been part of Clare minor hurling panels. Former club secretary, Pat Gavin is actively involved in all aspects of club life and he is currently secretary of the county Coiste na nOg hurling committee.
Those from the parish who wish to play camogie are catered for in the Scariff-Ogonnelloe club which has enjoyed county and provincial success in recent years.
Getting back up the hurling ladder in Clare and progressing the development plan are targets the club officials are determined to achieve over the next couple of years.