The field in question is the two-acre ‘pound’ field at Doire na nAspal in Doochary, adjacent to Donegal’s hauntingly beautiful Glenveagh National Park and next week, on St Patrick’s Day itself, the field steeped in Irish history will come under new ownership courtesy of a draw with a difference, run by Na Magha CLG.
The brainchild of club member and former fundraising officer, Gerard Roarty, Na Magha hope its ‘field of dreams’ draw will help fund improvements in facilities, coaching and school links for its ever growing membership base.
“Gerard was going for the novelty factor and it’s proven to be a very popular idea, it’s caught people’s imagination,” explained Gearalt Ó Mianáin, who took over as Fundraising Officer at the club’s recent AGM.
“It definitely has a unique feel to it. Gerard has done a huge amount of work on the draw, staying on to oversee it even after the AGM and it has been going well. We have been doing a lot of selling on line, that has proved very successful.”
With a cash alternative of 20,000 EURO available to any winner not wishing to inherit their own piece of historical Donegal Gaeltacht, tickets have been sold across the country and beyond. With its stunning views looking down the valley, its flat topography, and extensive road frontage, the club believe it would be a beautiful site for a home (subject to planning permission), a pod, tent or a caravan on a site where, in 1995, monks took refuge after being driven off Tory Island by Tudor invaders.
“At the end of the day, the money will be ploughed back into the games we love and one lucky ticket-holder will end up owning a little piece of heaven,” explained Mr Roarty, himself a native of Donegal.
After what has been a difficult year for the Ballyarnett club with the loss of club legend Sean Mellon and former chairman Gerard Finnegan, Mr. Ó Mianáin said they were more determined than ever to carry on the legacy laid down by the past generations who fought to keep hurling alive in Derry city.
“We have a training pitch but it needs surfaced properly,” explained Ó Mianáin, “We have so many teams now between the boys and the girls. If there is a match on the main pitch, there is nowhere for the other kids to train so fixing up that training pitch would alleviate 90 per cent of our problems in terms of accommodating the numbers we have. We have a responsibility as members of the local community to look after every kid that comes along and try to provide them with the best facilities we possibly can.
“It has been a tough few months for the club having lost Sean Mellon and then Gerard Finnegan, two great men. Everybody knows the influence Sean had on Na Magha and on hurling in this city and beyond. I was in Lenamore today with hurls because Sean’s son-in-law, Denis, is going to do a bit of after school coaching and I mean, Sean was recruiting from Lenamore when I started playing 38 years ago.
“They have passed the baton, or rather the hurl, on to this generation and it’s up to us to make sure we put things in place so that in 100 years hurling is still thriving in Derry City.”
Having acquired another three acres which are presently covered in whins and scrub in Ballyarnett Country Park on which they hope to build a new pitch in the future, things are looking bright for a club which prides itself in contributing to the local community in which it’s set.
“We want to have as many kids playing hurling as possible, we would love to have two teams at the different age groups,” added Mr. Ó Mianáin, “We have lots of work to do. As the club evolves you need to keep bringing in new people, new ideas, new parents.
“A club is a relay race, the last generation pass the hurl on to us just as the previous one did to them and it’s up to us as a club to try and increase numbers and keep the club moving forward. We want a togetherness which is second to none, that’s our aim.
“So many have put so much work into this draw, especially Gerard, and hopefully the funds from it will help us continue building the club together. It’s a one-off opportunity for someone to own something and somewhere very special.”
Tickets, which can also be purchased via Klubfunder, have been going fast with full details of the field and the draw available on the club’s website at www.namagha.ie/win-a-field-fundraising-draw.