Club Focus Beragh Red Knights
Red Knights fighting back
The key to being a successful club is being willing to put in the work.
That’s the assessment of Beragh chairman Seamus Boyle.
“You have to put in the work. Clubs have to have the right structured. You have to have sub committees. But those committees have to work. You have to be driven. You can’t have a bunch of seat warmers.”
What Beragh are driving towards is to become a division one team. They want all their underage teams to be playing grade one football.
That is their goal.
Boyle said: “We are striving for that. That’s where we hope to be.
“We want to be improving our youth.”
It has been almost 20 years since Beragh were at the top level in Tyrone.
The club believe they deserve to be back playing division one senior championship football.
And they feel like they have a plan in place to get thee.
In recent years they have changed their approach to training and worked on increasing the numbers of coaches they have in place.
One of the key men to do that was Ger Treacy, a former chairman and current vice chair.
Boyle said: “In fairness to Gerard he has pushed it on. He is the chairman of games development.
“But people must buy into the thing.”
They certainly buy into things when it comes to raising finances for their facilities.
One of the great talents that Beragh has had is their fund-raising. They have managed to fully pay for their facilities, which were completed in 2018.
For chairman Seamus Boyle, the reason why they have been so successful at fund-raising is practice.
“We have great volunteers. We have been fund-raising since 2005.
“I suppose the key is that they have got into the habit of it. Since 2005 we had small fund-raisers.
“We had a cow-pat challenge, a cycle. Any time we have done that people have got in the habit of it. I think the key is making it interesting.”
Boyle said that he is positive that now they have the right facilities in place, and the underage foundations are built, the club are on track to achieve their goals of playing at a higher level.
“It takes time, but we are getting there. Next year we will have our pitch sorted out. We are always looking for an extra field. We can’t just seem to get that. But we might in the feature. We just want to maximise of what we have got. That’s why we sorted that sports hall.
“As we say onwards and upwards. We dawdled a long time at junior level, but we are looking forward to the future.”
In the Beragh club they are excited about the foundations that have been built when it comes to coaching.
Chairman Seamus Boyle believes that for a long period of time, the club overlooked their underage.
“We lost sight of our underage. We didn’t put the time in. We were just going through the motions.”
But that has changed in recent years, and the club now has a great coaching set up, with good numbers at training, four coaches per age group, and teams who are competing at grade two with the potential to move to grade one.
Ger Treacy is the vice chair of the club and chair of the coaching and games development committee. He’s been passionate about improving the coaching at the club.
“I try to ensure the coaching structures in our club are right, so we can make sure that our players can be the best that they can be. That’s what my committee looks after and we are making significant progress in that area.”
Significant progress means lots of children learning to play gaelic games, plenty of coaches who are trained to oversee the games, and their teams competing at a good level.
“We believe that we are blessed in that we have a considerable bumber of high profile coaches in our club and we are learning from them.”
Ryan McCluskey, who played for Fermanagh for years, is their senior team manager. He has been imparting his knowledge to the club. They also have Barry Grimes, the Tyrone ladies team coach, involved. While Tyrone coach Ryan Porter is married and living in the club, and he is passing on his knowledge.
“We have invested a lot of time and effort to ensure that we have coaches at each age level up to speed with regards to what they are doing with their players and for the long term development plan. That is starting to bear fruit.”
The club is edging up the grades at all levels. Treacy said that he believes that next year all the teams will be competing at grade two.
“That’s good but we want to be competing at grade one. We have a group from nine to 13 who can compete at grade one. They are an exciting group of boys, but we also have a very good group of girls at the same age group.”
The club have ladies football, mens football and handball under the same umbrella.
They have also promoted hurling for the past 40 years with a variety of success.
What is also impressive is that the club have managed to get four coaches at each age group. They have around 60 underage coaches at the moment.
Treacy said that it is not easy getting that sort of buy in.
“I have had to ring up and talk to people and ask them to get involved. I don’t believe in this thing of posting to Facebook and hoping people turn up. You have to go and talk to people and get them to buy in to what we are trying to do. By talking to them and selling the thing we have been successful in getting people on board. People are waiting to be asked, but when asked they jump at the chance. And those people could be up-skilled.”
Their goal is that they want to make sure that every year they have three or four players who are coming out of minor level who are capable of coming into the senior set up.
“It takes a lot of work and a lot of meetings to get people on board.”
Sean Owens, the club treasurer explained that the club are looking forward to their next project.
In the past 16 years they have executed two successful developments. The first phase was their new clubhouse, and the second was their community hub and hand ball facility.
They were able to achieve those projects thanks to some excellent fundraising.
Owens said: “We had a very successful draw two years ago, we raised £420,000 for the community hub. It was a big effort. It was a big effort and the building has been completely paid for.
“It is great. From we started that building we thought we would never get it paid. From funding from SportNi and local council, and we also more than matched their funding. It is great to have no debt.”
The club has managed to get £2million of investment into the club, that went towards their facilities.
In 20 years they have went from having poor facilities to having a state of the art home for their club.
They had two stages of development, one in 2006 and the second in 2018. Their facilities include a three court sports hall, a smaller gym, two fully air conditioned hand ball alleys, a board room, a history room, referee facilities four changing rooms with ice baths.
They are also very proud that they have got it all paid off. And they have also managed to future-proof the ground, and make some clever investments that will save them money in the long run.
The club have a wind turbine and a ground source heat pump. The building is heated by the ground source heat pump, and the turbine offsets their utilities costs.
In order to raise the money for all these developments, fund-raising was crucial.
Owens said: “The fundraising was very streamlined. We had targets to meet every week. We had people went as far as Castleblayney, others went as far as Slaughtneil and Dungiven. Even in Tyrone everyone has been very generous.
“Jet (Ger Treacy) oversaw it. Everyone answered to him. It got very competitve. People were trying to beat each other.
“To be honest we have great volunteers in our club. There are no quibbles. Even new people have come into the club and want to get involved. We accept anyone. But the volunteers are really very good.”
Their next step is to have their new pitch. They are going to regrade it and sow it out.
The club have had their challenges with the weather in recent years. The pitch has been flooded three times of late. But they haven’t allowed that to dampen their resolve. Flood defences have been built and so far they have not had any disasters.
Their contractor will start work now and the pitch is going to be out of action for the next few months. They thought that in lockdown there would be no football, so they thought this would be the perfect time.
Football is coming back now, so they won’t have a pitch to play on.
“We will have to go to our generous neighbours to help.”
“There are a lot of issues facing people at the moment”
The new Beragh Hub promises to provide an important resource for the community.
The GAA club is not just a sporting organisation in the community. It has a responsibility to take care of its members.
Patsy Farley is Beragh’s Healthy clubs officer.
He sees the hub as a resource, and a place that can provide help for people in difficult times.
Farley said: “We are hoping to have a resource room, and that if they have issues that would be a place they could go to for contacts.
“There are a lot of issues facing people at the moment. Mental Health is a big one.
“There are people dealing with social and rural isolation. People who have lost a partner. The whole drugs issue.”
The new hub at Beragh will be important as it offers a place for people to come and get support from their friends and neighbours.
“It came in last year as part of our new sports centre and handball facility. We didn’t want it to just be about sports. Our youth club is on a Friday night, and because it is a community centre, our youth club is given frist preference on Friday night. Our youth club is on from seven to nine.”
The hub hosts the local youth club which is an important outlet for the younger people in the area, though there’s little they can do at the moment while lockdown is in place.
The club also provides a resource as the first responders for the Beragh Six mile cross area. The club has been used, along with the Marshall centre and the Beragh Swifts, for the training activities.
The club can host all sorts of events, community groups, sporting clubs, all sorts of things that can entertain those in the area.
“A big thing now is that when you are in a rural area, people find it hard to get into towns to use leisure facilities. So if you are in a rural area and you can provide facilities and activicies that pepole can come and enjoy on their doorstp.
“Sometimes it can be a headache if lots of groups are looking to use the facility, but that is a good headache to have.”
They also have a walkway around the club, and that provides another activity for people in the area.
They are hoping to have that floodlit as well which will add another dimension to the Beragh club.
The handball club is a point of pride in the club as well.
Ger Treacy said: “Our handball club is recognised as being one of the best in Ulster.
“That’s why we developed a second handball facility
“Handball is great for our youth. They play football from March to November and then the handball kicks in. It keeps their fitness and hand ey coordination. It dovetails well with the football.”
Seasons to remember
The seasons to remember for this club are the ones when they reached the senior championship semi-finals.
In the 114 years that GAA has been active in the Beragh area the club have reached the semi-final in 1924, 1928, 1936, 1955 and 1996. they were the key moments in the club’s history. The club won the junior championship in 1948 and 1988. They won the Intermediaet championship in 1993 and in 2000.
The club purchased their grounds in 1954. They redeveloped their grounds in 1974. They also completed the two phases of their development in 2006 and 2019.
The most significant match was the 2018 division 2/3 play off. The club had been relegated to junior in 2002. So promotion back to intermediate level was a significant step for the club after such a long sojourn at the lower level. They had lost the junior final in 2007, so 2018 was a significant step for the club. Their win over Kildress meant they played Intermediate division two football in 2019.
aspect of club
Beragh can lay claim to the fact that they are the club that has the architect of Croke Park, namely Des McMahon. He played for the club in the 1950s and 1960s.
The club also have been at the forefront of other developments at a grass roots level. They drew admiration from their neighbours during the 70s when they were one of the first clubs to have kit bags. They also produced things like members books. But one of the marks of their excellence in organisation came in 1979 when Frank Rodgers won a McNamee award for his secretary reports.