GAA activities have been taking place in Roscommon town since 1889 with Roscommon Gaels GAA club coming into existence in its current form in 1959. From the very beginning, the club sought to provide Gaelic Games to all that lived in Roscommon parish, and in their long history, the club has had many homes and gone through many transitions, now finally settling in Lisnamult – their ‘forever home’.
The Gaels is a big club, servicing Roscommon town and its catchment area, where they cater for and welcome people from five years of age to pensioners in the playing of football, hurling, camogie, ladies football, Scór and the All Stars – as well as providing activities for the community such as bingo, cards, facilities for fitness, dance and music classes, social functions, etc. The club’s current membership is in excess of 800, and last year they fielded 36 teams, with membership continuing to rise year on year.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, Roscommon Gaels, like every GAA club, are unable to host any on-field Gaelic Games’ activities at the moment.
However, Teresa Hession, the current Chairperson, stated that the club has been very busy working away off the pitch.
“While we are in a most difficult time, we are making the best of it by keeping our members occupied as much as possible with exciting initiatives such as online athletic and Strength & Conditioning programmes for players, as well as being engaged in the Community Assist initiatives during lockdowns.
“Our pitches and facilities may be closed, but off field we are busy with online meetings. Over the last 12-24 months, our members and our executive have put a lot of time and effort into planning for the future. We have had to be innovative to deliver things in a different way in line with restrictions”.
For example, the club’s lotto draw has gone online since early December. People are very generous and are supporting the lotto in the new format, something which is much appreciated.
Seamus Carthy, Vice-chairperson, said: “Lisnamult is our home, and while we miss all our club activities, we are hopeful that there will be great days there again very soon. One of the important decisions we have taken in recent times is to sell St. Coman’s Park (the Lough pitch) to Roscommon County Council, and this process is at an advanced stage. The pitch is adjoining the beautiful community facility of Loughnaneane Park, and it may be a welcome addition to this wonderful public park that has been so important for our community’s health and wellbeing in these Covid-19 times”.
The infrastructural development of the Lisnamult grounds began in 2002, when the club purchased 9.5 acres of land and installed a floodlit main pitch. In the years that followed, training pitches were developed, four dressing rooms were built (c/w with a sustainable energy water heating system) and an electronic scoreboard was installed. A hugely successful fundraiser, ‘Win a Subaru’, was run by the club in 2020. The proceeds of this fundraiser are ring-fenced to improve car park and sports wall surface facilities in Lisnamult.
Subject to Covid-19 restrictions, the club is hopeful this project will come out of the ground this year. This development will further enhance the existing facilities with our investment to date of €1.2 million in Lisnamult.
Club Secretary, John Donnellan, said: “This is a phenomenal amount of money raised by the club members to provide our club, our schools and our community with such fine facilities. The development of our grounds in Lisnamult continues apace”.
This progressive club continues to grow, and so the 9.5 acres in now not enough to accommodate all the teams which have to be catered for. Some of the current pressure on facilities in Lisnamult is relieved by the Hyde Centre, and the front training pitch at the Hyde.
Chairperson Teresa Hession said: “Ultimately however, we recognise that our home is Lisnamult, and this is where we want to develop all of our facilities to further enhance and nurture the great club spirit that Roscommon Gaels has fostered. We consider it essential that our clubhouse, all our playing facilities and community services must be in one location to ensure the optimum development of our GAA club.
“In preparation for the year ahead, we have appointed all the managers of our club’s adult teams and most of our underage teams have their managements in place also.
“We are delighted to have club members in all the adult team manager positions, which is a testament to the loyalty and drive in Roscommon Gaels – that people of such calibre have put themselves forward to take these teams for the 2021 season.
“Declan Hoare is the senior football manager, replacing Liam McNeill at the helm of this group after six incredible and dedicated years as senior manager. Decie is assisted by Shane O’Donnell, John Nolan and Kevin Stritch. Pat Clancy remains as senior hurling manager for his second year, with Liam Casey and David Hoare as his selectors. Mick Byrne and Francie Hoare are the Junior football managers for the coming season and will be aiming to build on the progression of our two junior teams in 2020 in the coming year. Paul Beisty is the Junior Ladies football manager and will, no doubt, be keen to build on the success of last’s year appearance in the Junior C County Final. Tom O’Farrell is, once again, the Roscommon Gaels Junior camogie manager and is also looking forward to the season after winning the Junior B title in 2020.
“We want to thank all our coaches and managers for stepping into these roles and the best of luck to them all for the coming season”.
So it is onwards and upwards for Roscommon Gaels as they continue to develop, contribute to the community of Roscommon Town and provide the best possible facilities to progress all their teams. Ni Neart go Cur Le Cheile.