Dolan’s rebuilding the future

Some of the participants in the Sean Dolan's GAA Summer Camp pictured with coaches Aisloing McCaul, Paul Simpson, CIaran Wilkinson and Caiotriona McChrystal.  (0707JB40)

Some of the participants in the Sean Dolan's GAA Summer Camp pictured with coaches Aisloing McCaul, Paul Simpson, CIaran Wilkinson and Caiotriona McChrystal. (0707JB40)

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It’s nine year-old Shea Cassidy’s dream to line out for the Sean Dolan’s senior team at the club’s home pitch at Piggery Ridge in Creggan.

The Sean Dolan’s clubhouse was extensively damaged in an alleged arson attack last December.

Shea and Bradan Hazlett practise their passing skills at the Sean Dolan's summer camp.  (0707JB42)

Shea and Bradan Hazlett practise their passing skills at the Sean Dolan's summer camp. (0707JB42)

The damage to the building and surrounding area was so bad that the club have not been able to host training, matches and their annual youth summer camp there.

Holy Child P.S. pupil Shea joined Sean Dolan’s four years ago when he was five years-old. Shea is both a passionate and talented Gael and says he dreams that someday he’ll get that winning score for his beloved Dolan’s.

“We were all very sad when the fire happened last year. We enjoyed using the club house and the pitch but because of the fire we haven’t been able to get back in.”

Shea plays for the Sean Dolan’s U10s and says that his favourite player is Dungiven centre half-back Mark Craig.

Shea Cassidy with Shea and Bradan Hazlett at the Sean Dolans Summer Camp.  (0707JB43)

Shea Cassidy with Shea and Bradan Hazlett at the Sean Dolans Summer Camp. (0707JB43)

“My daddy’s a painter and he works with Mark Craig. I think that he’s a great player and I’d like to grow up and play just like him.”

Brothers Braden and Shea Hazlett have joined Dolan’s when they were five and six years-old respectively. Braden will celebrate his ninth birthday next week while his brother Shea will be eight in the next few months.

Braden and Shea both turned out for this year’s summer camp in their Sean Dolan’s jerseys.

Braden says that the reason he likes Gaelic football so much is because it’s so fast. He says that nothing would make him happier than to score a point at the club’s home pitch in Creggan.

“I love playing for Dolan’s,” says Braden smiling.

“My brother Shea and I both play for the U10 team but we have never played a game at our home pitch.

“Everyone at the club felt bad when the fire damaged the clubhouse because that’s the place we always met up and did our training.

“I would have liked it had we been able to have our summer camp at our home pitch because we have had to use the MUGA pitch here and that’s not the surface we would be playing on when we line out for the U10s.

“I love playing for Dolan’s - it’s so much fun running around trying to score a point or even a goal. When I get older I want to play for the senior team and win trophies.”

Younger brother Shea echoed those sentiments.

“I joined Dolan’s two years ago and it’s only recently that I have started to make it into the U10 team.

“I like playing alongside my big brother but I’d really like if we were able to play together at our pitch up beside the clubhouse - that would be a dream come true.”

Ciaran Wilkinson is Sean Dolan’s Youth Development Officer. Ciaran, who is also a member of the club’s senior team, says that although the alleged arson attack on the club occurred over six months ago the local GAC is still far from getting back to where it once was.

“The fire totally set the club back. As you can see we haven’t been able to use our pitch to host this year’s annual summer camp.

“The pitch and the clubhouse is not safe at the minute and when you are taking young children training both they and their parents must feel that they are safe.

“We have to thank Derry City Council for all of their help - they have let us use the MUGA pitch in Creggan to host our summer camp but ideally we want to be back where we belong and that’s up at our pitch.”

Ciaran admits that the club still have many hurdles to manage but says that with time and the help and support of the community and other organisations he is confident that the young Gaels at Sean Dolan’s will fulfil their dreams, and that playing for their club on the home pitch will become a reality.

“The community and parents of the children at the club have been second to none but we all know there’s still a bit to go. I am confident that we will get back to where we were someday but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“We still need help so if anyone would like to assist with coaching or do a bit of volunteering we would love to hear from them.”

For further information contact Sean Dolan’s via Facebook at Sean-Dolan’s-GAC.