Sports Complex

The beginning of the 1980s witnessed a growing consensus in Kilworth that the sports community should be offered a wider measure of choice. This led to dialogue between Community Council, GAA and Tennis Club members, and from this emerged the view that the area would be best served if the clubs were to work hand in hand in developing a shared sports centre. A proposal that the sports centre should be located on GAA property was initially advanced but this was withdrawn in the face of opposition from the Community Council who feared that this could seriously compromise the future independence of the facility. This led to an acceptance that as the Tennis Club property lay conveniently adjacent to the GAA field, the centre should be located there and managed jointly by GAA and the Community Council. Today the wisdom of this move is readily apparent.

From this vantage point it may be hard for those who were not directly involved to gain some insight into the enormous amount of work that was undertaken by a small number of people who regularly came together to manage the progress of an ambitious plan. Spearheaded by Chair, Tom Hanrahan, who was ably assisted by Tom Cotter as Treasurer and Liam Walsh, NT, as secretary, the little group demonstrated a unique and critical sense of purpose.

Problems were solved as they arose, disagreements were resolved and monies collected. It merits recording that the little committee were determined that no monies should be borrowed and that all debts would be met from funds on hand.

To that end, from 1979 six festivals were organised each year in conjunction with the GAA (who nominated Jimmy Hanlon of New Road as their representative). Each festival had a turnover of some €20,000.00 annually and over the six years a net profit of approximately €48,000.00 was realised. In addition, there were two ‘monster’ parish draws extending over twenty-four months and each one of these netted a profit in excess of that obtained from a festival, and without the substantial level of hard work and accompanying anxiety. (In recalling those days, people today still speak with admiration of the ticket-selling skills of prominent GAA man Mick Greehy of Ballinvoher and long-standing Council member, May McCormack of Coolalisheen.) Of particular significance at the time was the input from the state agency ANCO which provided workers for the scheme. Under the watchful eye of supervisor John Murphy,

Fermoy, Pad O’Brien’s team rendered sterling service and in the process six local trainees laid the basis for their future careers as builders and plasterers. Significantly, the ANCO presence meant that the project was completed for some £55,000, that is, approximately £35,000.00 less than it would have cost if the Council were to have looked to the private sector. Most important of all perhaps was the fact that when the joint management committee of the Community Council and the GAA took over the completed building and site there were no debts to be discharged. Amazingly, the project had been completed without recourse to bank lending and this allowed the project committee to use the first year’s subscriptions to the Complex sports activities as seed capital to aid the re-establishment of the Tennis Club.

The official opening took place in 1984 with ecumenical blessings followed by a tennis exhibition. Comprising handball, squash and racquetball courts, together with a shower area and meeting rooms, the Complex gives eloquent testimony to the power of community when it is harnessed by single minded, hardworking men and women. Visitors remark on the high standard of the facilities and enjoy the vista provided by the balcony added to the building in 2004. The convenience of its location adjoining the GAA fields and the pitch and putt course also attracts favourable comment and Kilworth owes a debt of gratitude to those selfless pioneers who guided the project from start to finish at a time when the enormity of the task would have daunted the fainthearted.

One of the great strengths of the Sports Complex is seen in the fact that it is managed by a joint GAA and Community Council sub-committee that oversees the property and liaises regularly with the various clubs located there. Prominent in the management of the Complex down through the years have been Seamus Nash, Billy Hennessy, Michael Dunne and Dan Noonan, men who have made a significant contribution in a great many ways. Relationships have been harmonious at all times and to a significant degree this can be traced to the fact that most of those involved share membership of the Community Council and the GAA. This can be seen, for example, in the crucial support that the Council gave the GAA to enable it secure a second pitch, for example, and also in the manner in which both bodies co-operated to provide a pitch and putt course adjoining the Complex.

Sports Complex
Sports Complex
Sports Complex
Sports Complex
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