MAGHERACLOONE manager James Kierans has said that the spirit of the GAA has really shone through over the last few months as the Mitchell’s continue to adapt to their unusual situation.
In one of the less common problems faced by a GAA club, their main pitch was split down the middle by a series of sinkholes last September after a mine collapsed rendering them virtually homeless.
A temporary pitch was opened last month but as it is not fit to host senior matches, they continue to rely on the kindness of neighbours – and those around them have really stood up.
“At least we have a training facility up and running, it opened a couple of weeks ago,” said Kierans.
“Prior to that we were travelling around to neighbouring clubs for training and week-to-week you didn’t know where you were going to be.
“At least we have a base now although it won’t cater for senior games.
“The club has an arrangement with a junior club in Louth, Annaghminnon Rovers, for us to play our home games there until we get a permanent facility.
“Look, you’re rivals when you go out on the pitch but when the final whistle blows we are all GAA people. I’d like to think that Magheracloone would do the same for another club in a similar position.
“We’re fortunate in that we’re located in a good spot because we’re on the border with Cavan, Meath and Louth.
“We’ve had a lot of assistance from clubs in those counties too because their fixtures maybe didn’t clash with ours, the likes of Shercock, Kingscourt, Drumconrath, Sean McDermott’s in Louth, Annaghminnon Rovers.
“It’s been cross border as well as being in our own county.”
The rigmarole surrounding the pitch situation hasn’t led to any negative impact on the pitch though with Magheracloone topping the Intermediate League table ahead of their ‘home’ game with Cremartin last night.
A recent 3-15 to 0-9 win over nearest challengers Donaghmoyne has given them real momentum, although Kierans said that it was somewhat of a misleading result.
“Overall we’d be happy with our position,” said the manager, who is still able to call on the services of veteran Tommy Freeman.
“We got a good start in the five-point games, which is very important. If you fall behind in those it can be very hard to make up ground in the two-point games.
“We got a wake-up call against Corduff and it was probably no harm. Every so often you need a jolt.
“In fairness they have reacted well but the only thing I would say about the Donaghmoyne result is that Donaghmoyne were very understrength for that game.
“They had a group of young lads away on holidays, the likes of Davy Garland, Stephen Finnegan, Aaron Courtney. They were all missing.
“We were missing a few ourselves but it has to be taken into consideration when looking at that result.”
Magheracloone were in the Senior Championship final as recently as 2017, so they are determined to get back up to the top grade as soon as possible.
They will be amongst the favourites for the Intermediate Championship crown later in the summer, but Kierans said that they would be chasing promotion by any means necessary.
“The way I look at is there are two opportunities to get promoted to senior football, league and championship, and you can’t afford to turn your back on either.
“Our aim is to get back into senior football. How we do it, whether it’s by the league or championship, is of secondary importance.
“Yes when the championship comes along, everyone wants to win it but we want to be in contention at the end of the league stages too.”