Oct 1 st 2022 was the date that Football came home to Dunshaughlin!
On Saturday last, Dunshaughlin Youths Football Club hosted the official opening of their new playing facilities at The Willows – also the new home of Dunshaughlin Athletic Club – in a major sporting boost for this thriving East Meath town.
FAI President Gerry McEnaney joined a host of special guests for the official launch on Saturday, 1st October at the new home ground, adjacent to the Willows residential development which continues to be constructed by GEM Construction on a site adjacent to a new secondary school, primary school
and creche facility to serve the expanding community.
The Guest list also Included Minister Helen Mc Entee, Michael Cornyn from Meath Athletics, and Executives from all the Leagues that Dunshaughlin Youths play in – including the LFL, NECSL, LFL, AFL, along with all of our current managers and coaches and many former executives from both clubs. And of course, the most important people of all – the hundreds of boys and Girls who are the heart of both Clubs.
The day kicked off with a surprise visit from Ireland WMT manager Vera Pauw who took training for 90 minutes with 40 plus of the DYFC underage girls from age 11 to 16. The girls were in awe of Vera – as were the coaches – and both players and coaches alike were gifted many nuggets of wisdom and guidance from Pauw. It was a wonderful moment- that will live long in all our memories. Vera acknowledged the massive strides our coaches have made with 25% Girls participation and even promised to return in the future – when DYFC expect to have near 50% participation.
Things kicked off in earnest around 3pm with flags, football and ice-cream as the crowds thronged to see the new pitches, to run on the new track and watch over 4 hours of football. The first match on the new pitches – described as ‘like playing on billiard table’ – was for ‘The Willows Cup’, a challenge match between a Dunshaughlin Select 11 and a side from GEM Construction – the key development partner of both DYFC and DAC in the construction of the facility. This was followed by underage small-sided games for our younger players from U7 to U12 – and an exhibition game featuring our U16 girls and the initial stages of what will our first senior ladies’ side. Things were rounded off with a highly entertaining DYFC coaches vs coaches match…
FAI President Gerry McAnaney visited each of the teams and was hugely impressed with everything.
In the intervening moments between the sporting action, respective chairmen Oliver McKenna and Mick Summerville were joined by FAI president Gerry McEnaney and Michael Cronon from Athletics Ireland to ‘cut the ribbon’ on the site – followed by celebratory speeches, full of emotion and hope for the future.
During his moving speech, Oliver McKenna paid tribute to the late John O’Meara and his family, who originally ceded the land to Meath County Council for these very purposes, as well as acknowledging our founding members and all our present coaches , MCC and his own Pitch Committee and countless others, past and present members and also praised all the support all of the leagues gave us with scheduling games and also called out the huge support provided by our neighbouring Club Ratoath Harps and also the Community College and Community centre helping out with pitches over the last two years. The key contribution that Gem made in the development of the pitches and track was emphasised by Oliver and shows what can be achieved when everyone is working towards the same goal. He commented that the site of the players young and old running on to the pitches for the first time made it all worthwhile for all those involved past and present.
Similarly, Mick Summerville paid tribute to the Founding Members of both Clubs praised the support from DYFC, GEM, all local counsellors, and the tireless work of the many volunteers and members involved in bringing the project to its current stage.
Shane Carroll represented GEM Construction at the event and presented the beautiful “Willows Cup “ to the winning team – it will be a perpetual cup and a special competition will be played each year for it.
A momentous day for both clubs, the growing community in Dunshaughlin and the surrounding areas Both Clubs have had a close bond for many years with many being members of both Clubs, their combined strength in their new home can only a huge advantage and all can be massively proud of what they achieved so far.
Tre Neart le Cheile
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