Club founders at the celebration evening at St Finian’s: Aine McClean, Josie Power, Dolly Brogan, Tony Kiernan, President of the GAA Liam O’Neill, Mick McDermott, Doreen Dervin, Aidan McGill and Jim Shelly. Picture: Donal O’Hagan

Last weekend, St Finian’s GAA club celebrated their 30th anniversary with a day-long celebration, attended by president of the GAA, Liam O’Neill.

Exhibition games were played on the club’s pitches at Rivervalley, and the day was topped off with a dinner at the clubhouse.

The club have a lot to celebrate. Since their establishment in 1983, there have been cup, league and championship successes along the way for the club’s variety of teams, and last year the senior footballers achieved promotion to AFL 2 for the first time in the club’s history.

St Finian’s Robbie Callanan spoke to Gazette Sport about the last 30 years of the club. His involvement began when he came along at his children’s insistence some 15 years ago.

“When you look back over the whole history of the club, when it started back in 1983, there was only one adult team and a couple of juvenile teams, and now we are fielding up to 50 teams.

“It’s clear where the changes have come and how the club has developed, and in terms of the local community – we started off in the local parish there, and now we have a much larger area that we cater for.

“In 1983, it was not a huge area, and there have been new estates built around the area in the time the club has been in existence. It has expanded enormously. It’s also indicative of the changing demographic in Swords and the surrounding area.”

The involvement of games promotions officers at the club has been a valuable source of contact with the schools in the local community, including Holy Family National School and Holywell Educate Together. Holy Family National School has proven to be a hotbed of young talent, this year with eight teams representing the school, six of whom reached finals, and four of those sides taking title honours in boys and girls GAA codes, including the Cumann na mBunscol crown.

“We can’t underestimate the value of the opportunity for children to play sports in school. It’s great to have the support of the schools and the teachers,” said Callanan.

“A club like St Finian’s is not just about the playing success. The success is bringing people with huge amounts of skills to bear in promoting and helping the club, and the benefits it can bring for the community. We’re at the heart of the community, and that was the goal of the people who started the club.

“It’s up to us to carry that baton along, and provide and develop a vibrant and healthy sporting and cultural outlet for the young people in the community – those kids are the next 30 years of the club.”