Today heralds the opening of another chapter in the development of Gaelic games for Roger Casement’s GAC and Geraldines’ Camogie Club Portglenone. Founded in 1941 the Club moved to its current home at Gortgole Road fifty years ago in 1965. The Club Minutes record that in 1959 the Club purchased a small farm of seven acres, comprising three small fields at a cost of £1,050. Some 6 years later drawing on the skills and expertise of local Contractor Jack Wilson (recently deceased) and a wealth of voluntary labour the Pitch was officially opened by Mr. Alf Murray, President of the G.A.A.
In 1970 a Hall and Social Centre was opened on Main Street, Portglenone, to provide a multi-purpose facility right at the heart of the Community.
The Committee and Members celebrated another proud minute in 2003 with the Opening of the Club Pavilion with financial assistance from the Sports Council, Ballymena Borough Council and much-needed fundraising by Club Members.
Today 50 years later in 2015 the Club embarks on a further phase, the development of a second playing pitch in the adjoining field of seven acres. A Development Sub-Committee were tasked with the purchase and design of this ambitious Project. With 18 teams in both camogie and football to cater for, there is a pressing need for more playing space.
The search began for suitable land approximately 20 years ago. The Club entered into an Enabling Scheme with the legacy Ballymena Council, who offered both administrative and financial assistance to get the Project up and running. This Scheme has been adopted by the new Mid and East Antrim Council, who have enthusiastically continued the good work of the former Council. This assistance coupled with ongoing massive fundraising by both young and old Club Members have brought this Project to life.
The seven acres were purchased in late 2011 and is adjacent to the Club’s existing facilities at O’Cathain Park on the Gortgole Rd. The proposed Development is a full size GAA Pitch (140m x 85m playing area) with floodlighting, spectator and ball-stop fencing. There will be vehicular access and limited parking facilities. A designated pedestrian access with amenity lighting will provide access from the Club’s existing site. Other elements will include boundary fencing and sub shelters.
Working in partnership with the Club’s Development Committee, the Client Team comprises MWA Partnership (Lead Consultant and Landscape Architects), Taylor and Boyd (Civil Engineers), WYG (Mechanical and Electrical Engineers), and WH Stephens (Quantity Surveyors & CDM).
The appointed Contractor is McAvoy Construction LLP, who specialise in sports ground construction. Work has recently commenced on site and is programmed for substantial completion during Summer 2016, following which there will be an establishment period before the new playing surface is opened for use.
The current Project is the first phase of a long term Development Plan. The Club’s planning for the future involves re-development and improvement to the existing field and associated facilities at O’Cathain Park.
As the Club prepares to celebrate 75 years in existence next year the good work of our forefathers is being replicated by vibrant and ambitious members who want to keep Casement’s Portglenone one of the premier sporting clubs in Antrim.
Present in the photograph were (left to right) Mr. Barney Graham (MWA Partnership), Mr. Liam O’Kane (Development Committee), Mr. Noel Kelly (Club Chairman), Cllr. Billy Ashe (Chair, Mid and East Antrim Council) and Mr. Martin Kearney (Club Secretary).