Creggs Rugby Club has always been a hive of activity, particularly at weekends when numerous teams of all ages are out scrumming and rucking on the hallowed turf of The Green. Recently however, men with diggers and dumpers are volunteering their time as they transform a recently acquired eight-acre site into a top class rugby facility featuring three new pitches.
Creggs chairperson, Kieran Dowd, says the development is vital for the future of local rugby.
“We figured we needed three pitches because basically what you’re looking at here is the home of Creggs Rugby, which has probably in excess of twelve full teams or eighteen teams if you count ‘Mini Rugby’. It’s the home for schools rugby in Roscommon – CBS and the Community College and St. Mary’s in Ballygar. All those teams use this as their home venue so when you factor in the amount of training and games we needed these facilities,” he said.
The work on the three new pitches is a community project with volunteers constantly calling the club offering their services. Kieran says the club appreciates all the support from the local community and sees this project as an opportunity to give back.
“One of the most significant things we’re putting in – it’s an eight-acre site altogether – we’re putting a walk around the whole lot of it. There’s a local community walk group and they’re interested in coming in and leasing that off us and we’re excited about that because we really want to give something back to the community. We want it to be a community project, not just a Creggs Rugby project.”
Kieran said the fact that the work is being completed by a dedicated team of volunteers provides immense satisfaction. As he surveyed the work being carried out in front of us, he said: “One of the great things about the development so far is the amount of volunteerism. People have rung up. That guy driving that dumper there, he saw it on Facebook, former player, he rang up and asked if he could come down. He’s between jobs at the moment, asked could he come down and give a few hours’ volunteering. Those lads are all volunteering on those dumpers which are out on hire. That’s been the most pleasing aspect of it.”
Site foreman, Kieran Brandon, who was one of the founding members of Creggs Rugby back in 1974, said that while it was a challenge, the rewards were worth it.
“People say I’m in charge but the man who’s really in charge is the man driving the digger. I have to have ten drivers every day to drive for him and you wouldn’t want to miss a beat!
It’s good for the spirit anyway, we’ve a load of lads – old and young – it’s great,” he said.
New pitches don’t come cheap and chairperson Dowd said that while the club lotto will provide funding, it is hoped that members of the Creggs Rugby community see the value in getting behind the project.
“As you can imagine, this is going to go into a significant amount of money, you’re probably talking half a million. It’s been funded principally through our own club lotto and we hope to increase the numbers in that.
“We also hope that when people see the work going on and they see that their kids are playing here or they’re in school in Roscommon or in Ballygar or their grandchild is playing here, that they might invest in the lotto for a few years,” he said.
Creggs Rugby has many supporters and Kieran said that they’ve also been quick to lend a hand.
“We have great sponsors, we’ve great friends in the community. We’re getting interest-free loans from individuals and sponsors and we are getting great support from the IRFU – we’re getting an €80,000 loan off them at 1%. That’s worth an awful lot to us. There’s also about €100,000 in volunteer hours over the course of the project,” he said.
Kieran paid tribute to the very generous sponsors of Creggs Rugby as well as those who have helped to develop the club over the years.
“I’d like to thank the sponsors, particularly Ward & Burke and Murray’s, they’ve been very supportive of us over the years and continue to be that way.
“The amount of people involved in this project has been phenomenal and goes back as far as the negotiations on acquiring the land. Even the clubhouse…lads came in and re-plastered the whole thing and refused to take any payment for it. That set the tone,” he said.
The work on the three new pitches in Creggs is ahead of schedule due to the recent good weather and the hard work of those willing to give their time.
It is hoped that the new facility will offer players from all over Roscommon and East Galway a place to hone their skills throughout the year. Creggs Rugby has got a push on thanks to the hard work of volunteers, and with the continued support of the local community, the village is set to become a rugby Mecca for those wishing to try their hand at the oval ball.