HomeFootballBallinrobe Community School set for special session on the pitch

Ballinrobe Community School set for special session on the pitch


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The sprawling field across the road from Ballinrobe Community School was getting good use when The Mayo News called to hear details of the pandemonium that will ensue on this very ground on Friday.

A group of senior students, one of several groups who use this pitch and surrounding walkway every week, are just leaving as another are about to start their weekly PE class.

Over the weekend, this pitch will be the scene of a world record attempt.

It will involve more than 400 players taking part in the biggest game of football South Mayo has ever seen – not all at the same time, of course.

Anyone with a pair of boots and a set of togs has been called upon to do a ten-minute shift.

“All you need to do is to be able to stand on the field for ten minutes and if the ball comes you can kick it around the place, but you don’t have to either,” says Damien Egan, who teaches in the school. 

When the chaos is over, Ballinrobe Community hope to take a big step in turning this flat, gargantuan sod into what Egan calls ‘a mini-Bekan’.

“We have over four or five acres of pitches here. We took the decision there in the last couple of months to try and build a space that will incorporate a high-spec, modern gym,” explains Egan during a break between classes.

“We’re trying to build it as big as possible, so not only does it cater for the PE classes and for the kids who come through the school, but also as a facility for the wider South Mayo region when we’re not in school.”

Sitting behind one of the goals is an empty, green patch of grass that will house this proposed fitness centre.

But it won’t be just burly BCS students in here doing bench-presses and bicep curls before class.

“This space is going to cater for all sports and all teams,” states Egan.

“Gaelic football and soccer and basketball is predominant in the school. Go right around the area, we have cricket teams, we have various other teams that would be able to fully avail of this space.

“The appeal of what we’re trying to do will cater for a broad cohort of society. The amount of kids that go to Ballinrobe – we have over 800 – so this doesn’t just improve the town of Ballinrobe, all our feeder schools and all our feeder villages, you’re talking most of South Mayo will have a positive impact when this facility is built.”

As manager of the school’s senior Gaelic football Egan knows what it takes to prepare an elite group of young sportspeople for battle.

In 2017, his guiding hands steered the senior boys to an All-Ireland title in Croke Park that they still talk about today.

Having a state-of-the-art gymnasium right beside their playing pitch will only be a help to a school that has seen its boys and girls win multiple All-Ireland titles.

“It you have a free, modern gym and you’re coming into Ballinrobe as First Year, five days a week, for nine months of the year, for six years, it’s obviously going to revolutionise the physical development of all players that come into the school and obviously then that will have a knock-on effect on the performance of each player,” says the Bonniconlon native.

“We’re trying to compete with the [St] Geralds and [St] Colman’s and the [St] Jarlath’s. These teams who have a legacy of S&C development all the way up the line this will be a key piece of the puzzle to fill in to consistently aim to beat those big teams.”

For the next few days, the senior footballers will be far from his mind for the minute as Egan and the rest of the school staff organise the logistics needed to manage the mayhem on Friday.

“The plans are in motion for a number of months. In fairness, the bulk of the people that’ll take part in the event would be the students,” says Egan.

“So we have a good natural amount of people to tap into when you look at the students. Between students, teachers, and a growing number of outsiders and primary school children as well, in fairness we have a decent read on the numbers.

“We’re in line to break it, but we need a call to arms to everyone who can come to join in what should be a good day.”

You can find out more about Ballinrobe Community School’s plans for a new Fitness Gym on the school’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

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