The fallout from the recession and emigration was brought centre stage at Clare GAA County Board meeting this week, when there was strong support for a request from Ogonnelloe to be allowed to regrade from intermediate to junior A hurling level for 2016.
In a detailed letter to the meeting, the East Clare club outlined their reasons for seeking to be regraded.
“Over the past number of years, we have struggled as a club to compete at intermediate level due to a number of factors, which are largely outside of our control. It is now the wish of the entire club, having discussed it at our recent AGM, with players and supporters alike, to apply to be allowed to regrade for 2016. This is not a decision we have come to lightly but it is one we believe is absolutely necessary for the continued survival of Ogonnelloe Hurling Club,” the letter read.
“Over the past few years, as the impact of the economic recession took effect, we have lost Colm Forde, Peter O’Brien, Henry Vaughan, Ozer McMahon, Barry Kiely and Rory Skelly to emigration, all leading young players who provided the spine of the team. As we have always operated with limited playing resources, their loss was devestating to the club in every sense and, unfortunately, there isn’t any hope of them returning in the near future.”
They detailed the scorelines in their intermediate championship matches over the past two years and also listed the scores in their league games last year, which included losses to three teams that were in the Junior A Championship.
“The number of players available to the club at adult level in the coming years will not increase and our younger players coming through have become very disillusioned with the hurling, as we cannot become competitive at intermediate level and there is no incentive for them to continue playing the game. The danger for the club as these players go to college and find work is that they will look to move to or be poached by other clubs, who can provide them with competitive games and a chance of winning championship matches at the very least.”
The letter went on to list the numbers of players available to the club. “We must be in a position, as a club, to offer players a competitive and enjoyable hurling experience at adult level and it is not possible for us at the moment at intermediate level. Unless we can address this issue, players will not continue to play the game with us into adult level and the very survival of our club will be at stake in the years ahead. This is not a decision that has been taken lightly by the club. We have made every effort, over the past two years in particular, to have a competitive and enjoyable structure for our adult players but, at intermediate level, this is simply beyond our current capabilities,” the application concluded.
Club chairman Michael Sheedy noted “this has been coming for the past two or three years”.
Pat Frawley (St Joseph’s) seconded the Ogonnelloe request, which was also supporeted by Tony O’Brien (Smith O’Brien’s), Ger Lyons (Ruan) and board PRO, Sean O’Halloran, who is the secretary at neighbouring Bodyke. There were no objections to the request and board chairman Joe Cooney said he would bring it to the CCC.