Tir na nOg members will take the first official steps towards a ground-breaking chapter in club history today (Friday) with the launch of a £600,000 development project.
Grant funding for £545,000 has been provided under the Department of Social Development’s Neighbourhood Renewal programme and club fundraising efforts started last year in pursuit of the final tally.
The end product will result in four changing rooms, a first-aid area, referee’s facility and toilets to help serve the 16 teams on show across the Tir na nOg roster.
The ambitious step forward is due for completion next February and work recently started, with Friday’s ceremony providing the official seal of approval on what club officials consider a major boost.
“In the past, we had to manage with basically tin huts, which were cold, uncomfortable and not really suitable for our needs or numbers,” said Michael Lavery, the Tir na nOg development officer. “This project will make such a difference to club life across our membership, with two changing rooms designed specifically for female players and two for male.
“The days of managers or coaching staff having to take home training equipment will be gone thanks to the kit storage room and it is something which everyone connected to Tir na nOg can look forward to enjoying.
“We have a great group of people working towards the future of Tir na nOg, across the club and football committees.
“We can call on something like 90 volunteers and have around 380 youth players using the club.
“It is a major boost for us all and opens up a fresh chapter in club history.
“Friday’s ceremony will mark the official launch of our project and the completion date has been set as February 22 of next year.”
Club fundraising schemes have covered a wide range of formats to date - with full backing from the senior players down to youth members, plus sponsors, officials and supporters.
“We have had Monster Bingo, a Mr and Mrs Night, Buckin’ Bronco, Come Dine With Me, The Full Monty, golf and music gigs,” said Lavery. “It is about pulling together to raise the £40,000 or £50,000 required to supplement the grant funding.
“Our Buy-A-Brick scheme offers someone the chance to commemorate a connection to the club on a special plaque for just £5.
“We have more events in the pipeline and it is certainly an exciting period.”