ST COLUMBAN’S Glin Road home received a beautiful makeover to celebrate their 50th anniversary as best they could in anticipation of further celebrations once restrictions allow.
The anniversary comes at a great time in the Dublin 17 club’s history following a recent rejuvenation of fortunes following a huge amount of work in the past five years.
The club was originally established in 1971 by a group of local men for the children of Coolock and has had hundreds of brilliant teams and volunteers over the years.
But, in 2016, the club encompassed just four children’s teams, the academy for under 7s, a women’s team and an Over-35s team.
And Mandy Mc Guinness (chairperson) and Nicol Hanlon (club secretary) fell into their roles on the club committee partially by accident following a particularly low attendance at a club AGM.
The previous executive committee were stepping down and leaving the club. Given the options were few, the duo decided that rather than the club folding after so many years, they would take on the challenge until someone with more experience could be found.
It meant a crash course in accounts, getting people trained in child protection, building a new set of club policies, registering teams, organise winter training on Astro and finding the money to pay for it among numerous other tasks.
Since then, the club’s Emer Hayde says St Columban’s have committed to “do the best for the community and people around it and turn it into more of a family atmosphere rather than each team running independently, which had been a previous problem with building up the club”.
Those children from the academy now form two Under-10 teams while the latest academy has a further 24 budding new players.
In addition, the club now fields teams at Under-11, 12, 13, 14, 15 girls, 16s and 18s as well as two senior men’s teams in addition to the original women’s team and Over-35s.
Those Columban’s men’s teams have proven a significant success since coming into play in 2016.
They have since progressed through the AUL divisions and, by 2019, had won the Jim Cullen Cup, The Elastoplast Shield and league titles. The same year the club won AUL Club of the year. The ladies team have been filling the trophy cabinet every year since they came to the club.
“The focus has been and always will be growing the club from the ground up which effectively means children before everyone. Grass roots will fill big boots.
“Over the last four years we have grown and now have ten children’s teams one of whom is an all-girls under 15s team who are managed by players from the Ladies team. Like a lot of clubs, we were also struggling to keep the teenage players but amazingly they were approached June last by a coach who had played for the club previously and asked could we put a 17s together.
“There was a wide range in ages wanting to join, so we ended up with an Under-18s and an Under-16s too. They are the age range of the area who are most in need of support and hobbies to keep them out of trouble to avoid anti-social behaviour in the future and to set a good example for the children coming up.”
The club had planned a big celebration this year but, due to Covid, that is on hold. But the club has still been active and are delighted with the outcome of a typical volunteer effort.
Nicola Fagan – a player on the women’s team – runs a successful painting and decorating company and suggested she donate her time and paint for this latest project to redesign the clubhouse.
“This is not the first time Nicola has given to our club,” Hayde said. “Even though she is not resident in the area, she has a shown great sense of community and really wants to help.
“She sponsored the club with all new away kit and then the following year donated a huge sum for the teams insurance. We really appreciate the time an effort that Nicola has given both on and off the pitch since she has been with the club. The club would like to thank her and wish her and her business every success.”