Old Rivalries to be Renewed in Castlegregory- Tom HoganWritten by Lorcan
Castlegregory GAA senior footballers have come up with an unique idea for fundraising which involves the senior players taking part in a “Cic Fada” competition along the back beach in Castle on bank holiday Saturday June 1. The ‘Cic Fada’ course will run from Fahamore to Stradbally over a distance of 7 kilometres; and the competition will be divided into teams of 7 from the different areas of the parish in what is a throwback to the parish leagues of the 1950’s and 60’s. Former club chairman Joe Wren remembers those far off days with fondness – ‘there was a very keen rivalry between the teams from the different townlands back then; and during the matches there was no quarter asked or given, but when the games would end we would all still be great friends’ he reminisced with a twinkle in his eye.
Recalling those teams and leagues, the senior players will divide up into 5 teams of 7, with each team representing their own area– Aughacasla, Castle Village, Maharees, Stradbally and Cloghane. A player from each team will take a kick in turn and the team that completes the course in the least amount of kicks will be declared the winner.
Already the rivalry is building up - ‘ There’s only one winner in this competition - that’s Stradbally’ says Colm O’Mahony. Anton Kelliher laughs ‘Colm has lost the run of himself already – the Village are clear favourites to take the prize!’ ‘Back in the 60’s Aughacasla won 3 Parish Leagues on the trot so we’ll take this title no bother’ declares Eoin O’Shea. ‘Tá na leaids sin go léir as a mheabhair ma ceapann siad go mbeidh an bua acu, beidh an bua ag an Chlochán gan dabht ar bith!’ a dúirt Gearóid MacGearailt.
How did the idea come about? ‘Well, although I’m running the event I’d never take credit for another man’s idea’ says organiser Tom Hogan. ‘The idea was suggested to me by a good friend of mine Billy Sheehan. Billy now lives in Castle but his home club is in Tallow in Co Waterford. They’re a hurling club and a number of years back Billy helped organise a Poc Fada competition as a fundraiser. It was a huge success and Billy thought it might be a good way for Castle to raise funds and have a bit of craic. However, hurling wouldn’t be very big in Castle so we decided to stick with the football!’
The public will be asked to sponsor a line (€5) by predicting the winning team and the number of kicks. A prize of €250 will be awarded to whoever has the winning team and the exact or nearest amount of kicks. A consolation prize of €50 will be awarded to whoever has the worst performing team and the exact or nearest amount of kicks! The players will be out and about with the sponsorship cards over the next few weeks and manager Ger O’Callaghan is expecting a positive response: ‘We are aware that people are finding it difficult financially but the people of the area have always shown great loyalty and generosity to the football club and we’re sure this will be no different. And sure, if you can predict which team will win and how many kicks they’ll take, you could win €250! How bad would that be on a bank holiday weekend?’
How many kicks will it take? ‘Difficult to gauge’ says team selector John Healy, ‘a number of considerations need to be taken into account. This is on sand so the ball could take a good bounce forward. Also weather conditions will be a factor, if there’s a south-westerly wind on the day it could be difficult to kick into and it could hold up the ball. On average, a player would kick a ball 45 to 50 metres so that may be a place to start your calculations.’
Some of the monies collected will go to funding an intensive training course in Dublin by the Castle senior team culminating in a challenge against local Dublin club Raheny GAA. ‘The last time Castle football club went to Dublin we won an All Ireland; and while there won’t be any All Ireland at stake this time, it’s always good to go to the capital and give the Dubs a good rattle’ smiled selector John Joe O’Connor.
The event is certainly different and will test the players’ kicking skills, but club captain and Maharees man Joe O’Connor has no worries; ‘This year the players are very committed and it’s events like this, outside the training and the matches, that can give the players and the club a sense of purpose and unity. We are hoping that everyone will row in behind us and give us all the support they can.’
So it’s all systems go for the June weekend when old rivalries will be renewed and great football days of yore will be remembered. And some area in Castle/Cloghane will, once again, be able to claim the title ‘Pride of the Parish’.