2015 marks 25 years of Esker Celtic providing football in Hermitage Park. This Saturday sees the club celebrate the milestone with a massive gala event in the Clarion Hotel, Liffey Valley.
FAI chief executive John Delaney will be there, as will many other esteemed figures involved in Irish grassroots football. Also present on the night will be members of Esker from the past and present, with several men who represented the first ever side.
Paul Cleary has been involved with Esker for 20 of their 25 years and has been chairman of the Lucan club since 2001, so GazetteSport caught up with him in the week leading up to the gala event.
On what’s been the biggest moment of the club in his time there, Cleary was in no doubt of his fondest memory in these past 20 years. “The building of the clubhouse and opening of the clubhouse in 2007 was probably the biggest day for the whole club,” he said.
“I can still remember the day in Hermitage Park in May of that year. There have obviously been cup and league successes over the years, such as the senior team winning the LSL Vere Deane Cup last year which is our most recent success.
“In 2013 we were the FAI Club of the Year, which was obviously a massive thing for the club.
“Two years ago we launched a Football for All programme which is a big thing the FAI are trying to get as many clubs to do. It’s providing football for kids with disabilities and that so there’s a big push on that now and we’re right in the thick of it.
“We’ve 44 teams at the moment, we’ve an academy with 100 kids in it, we’ve two girls’ teams and a senior team as well as the Football for All with 25 kids involved in that.”
Cleary, who also manages the club’s senior side, was also asked what he thinks the secret is to a local club maintaining sustainability and improving membership year in year out.
“I think it’s to do with the longevity of the committee and people coming in. That’s opposed to other clubs who enforce rules which force chairmen or committees to change every three years. You need consistency and I think that’s a big factor in our success and longevity.
“It’s also important to get people on the committee whose kids are quite young at the club and will be there for a long time and want what’s best.
“When you have everyone speaking the same language and wanting the same things on a committee, it’s much easier to make decisions.”