Sheriff YC President Jack Russell, AIG Ireland GM Declan O’Rourke, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and JLT Director Amanda Harton at the club’s reopening. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

SHERIFF YC were celebrating a long-awaited return to their home grounds after an insurance problem locked them out of their facilities in the north inner city.

The Sheriff Street-based club were stung at the end of November when their insurance claim came up for renewal and they were informed they presented too high a risk.

A couple of claims, relating to functions in the club bar, that were paid out several years ago saw the premiums rise to unmanageable levels – and left their premises unusable.

That was the case for more than two months – with football teams playing all their matches away from home – until financial firms JLT and AIG stepped in to help solve the problem.

“There were 300 kids being left on the street,” Sheriff PRO Hugo Richardson told the Dublin Gazette.

“We’re a voluntary organisation. Kids come down here to the academy on Saturday morning – closed. Badminton – closed. Bowls – closed. Bingo for the old folks – closed.

Declan Woods is a local goalkeeper – he played for the club. He keeps in touch with his mates and all that and he’s with JLT. They got in touch with AIG, who are based around the financial area.

“They linked up together and worked on it for a couple of weeks and by the grace of god they sorted the problem out for us.

“We’re back home and it’s a credit to the whole North Wall area.

“It’s a lesson-learner for other clubs. We’ve been educating them on the same system – if you have a small bar in your clubhouse, have the bar private to the sport. You’ve no problems then.”

Sheriff are best known for their senior men’s football team, who have dominated junior football for the past decade.

The club also offers a range of recreation activities to the local community from badminton to bowls, with indoor facilities provided for basketball and five-a-side football.

Chris Giles, the son of the legendary Irish footballer John, runs the kids’ academy from ages five to nine, while volunteers keep the club open around the clock for the local youth.

However, it was the loss of the weekly bingo night that symbolised just how vital the club is to the local area, providing a link to the outside world for many elderly people.

“The main thing is the bingo. The local women come into the bingo every Wednesday.

“That was closed for six to eight weeks, and some of the women didn’t even leave their homes until that started back up. It’s a small bingo, but it’s great for them to get them out.”

The club can once again look to its future now, and with their 50th anniversary coming up in 2022 they can look ahead to remaining a vital part of a community that lacks amenities.

“What we hope to get out of it is to keep the club going for as long as we can. Keep more kids off the streets, more kids involved in sport, no matter. The more the merrier.

“You’d need to be going here 24 hours to keep the kids occupied around the area – there’s not enough for them. We’re just one of the big things in the area.

“You have the boxing and other stuff as well but we need more. If [the club] shuts down, the whole street shuts down, the whole area shuts down and there’s nothing doing.”