By Liam Horan

They’re going to build new changing rooms and a small covered stand at the football pitch on Clare Island, just off the coast of Co. Mayo.

I’ve given a few quid (wish it could be more) and I urge you to do likewise, if you can spare some, and I know it’s not easy.

They reckon it will cost €100,000 (I’d say they’re rolling up the sleeves themselves to keep it down to that) and they’ve been approved for €43,000 under Sports Capital Funding. At the time of writing, they have gathered almost €9,000 of the shortfall – see  HERE.

Here are eleven reasons why you should do your bit, if you can at all:

  1. Every year, islanders come home from the four corners of the earth to wear the green (sometimes with white, sometimes with gold) in the All-Island All-Ireland tournament. They field men’s and women’s teams. Olof Gill would tell his MEP bosses in Brussels that, yes, indeed he did have something planned for the weekend: he was playing football. An All-Ireland. On Beara Island or Aranmore. Planes, trains, automobiles and boats. The All-Island All-Ireland is the Comortas Peil for even harder cases.
  2. They’ve won the men’s title seven times, the women’s three times. In 2009, they completed an historic men’s and women’s double. There exists a powerful photo of the two cups being transported home on the boat from Roonagh, but for the life of me, I can’t find it. If someone has it, I will add it. And you thought Austin Stacks or Blackrock supporters were the market leaders in the post match jaunt home? Read it (if/when I get it) and weep.
  3. In 2015, the women won the title on the neighbouring, fellow Mayo island of Inisturk. That brazen piece of eating over the fence was a sweet burglary that surely impressed their spiritual leader, Granuaile, the pirate queen, watching on from the great covered stand in the sky. And on this extraordinary pitch too.

5. “And if the boat can’t sail,  sure we’ll get home some other day.” I’ve been that soldier. Well, not quite: the boat did sail, I didn’t. “Previous convictions, your honour? Well, he certainly didn’t need directions to the courthouse.”

6. Long before the ferry service became as good as it is now, islanders got to Mayo matches. Just did, like. No ifs or buts.

7. Oliver O’Malley. When you get a bear hug from the bearded Oliver, you realise you’ve never really, truly, been bear-hugged before. Oliver played for the island for a thousand years – I think it was that dastardly five-year rule that got him in the end.

8. Padraic O’Malley. He runs the local Post Office and shop, and B&B with his wife Jane. Like Oliver, he’d eat footballs. If he’s not doing his bit for the club, he’s promoting the case of the island. Or all of our islands. Played almost forever too but the hips gave out and after they moved him into the corner, there was no way back. There never is. Helping out with enquires re Point 5 above.

9. Oliver and Padraig O’Malley together. Ideally, in Dublin on an All-Ireland Saturday night when the world is alive with potential.

10. Clare Island players line out with Louisburgh in the Mayo leagues and championships. And Gerry O’Malley, the famous Roscommon player, was born to Clare Island stock.

11. If we don’t keep our islands alive, it’ll be to our shame. If you give Clare Island football club money, you’ll be doing your bit. It’ll be in the safest of hands. Keeping football alive on the island is about much more than the football, but it is about the football too, of course. You don’t need me to tell you about the fragility of island life. You know how it works. The place is heaven itself but it needs facilities to keep people there/coming back from Brussels. If you go big, they give you a pin or a club top – and if you go really big, you can ask for an Oliver O’Malley bear hug, and none of your virtual workarounds either.

If you can spare it: HERE

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