Meath Co Committee chairman Barney Allen and 1949 All-Ireland-winning captain Brian Smyth turning the sod at Dunboyne GAA club's new development on Sunday evening.

New plans unveiled by Dunboyne club

Sixty one years after leading Meath to the county's first SFC All-Ireland title Brian Smyth was involved last Sunday in helping Dunboyne open a new chapter in the long history of the GAA in the area. Smyth, along with Co Committee chairman Barney Allen, officially turned the first sod in the club's latest project to develop two new pitches at Rooske Road close to the current clubhouse. Led by a piper, many young and not so young members of the local community took part in a parade from the clubhouse to the nearby eight-acre site which is now scrubland. Dunboyne GAA club plan to turn the site into two full-length pitches within the next few years at a cost of €220,000. After that, in phase two, the aim is to install other features which includes lighting and fencing. Also among those who spoke at the sod-turning ceremony on a pleasant evening were Leinster Council's Seamus Howlin, the local parish priest Monsignor Dermot Farrell and club chairman Peter Moran. Smyth recalled how in the 1940s there were "bits and pieces of teams" around the area and these were brought together in the early 1950s mainly through the efforts of local priest Fr Carberry to form Dunboyne GAA club. The former Meath captain recalled how he won his first hurling championship medal with Flathouse, one of the teams who made up the constituent parts of the club. He hoped that this new venture would mark the start a successful era for Dunboyne GAA. He added that he also hoped they would win a SHC title this year despite the result the previous evening when they were the victims of a shock defeat by Killyon. The area earmarked for development was originally donated to the club by the late Noel Keating of Kepak, explained Dunboyne chairman Peter Moran. However, various complications arose over the ownership of the land. "The issue of getting the eight acres signed over to our club proved difficult, but eventually it came to fruition two years ago when we got the land signed over to Dunboyne GAA club. It was at that stage we started to put through our application to develop two full-sized playing pitches and an entrance," he said. Adding that the club have carried out a €1 million expansion of the clubhouse in recent years, Moran said that Dunboyne were now in a position to start focusing on developing the new pitches, which were badly needed. He estimated that by the time the eight acres are completely developed, "four or five years time," it will cost the club close to €500,000. "At this moment in time we've only got one pitch to facilitate 35 teams, plus the pitch is made available to Dunboyne College, the secondary school and the Irish school and occasionally ladies football if requested. "For the last 30 years we've worked off one pitch and we have competed at the top level in all grades, hurling and football, and won many championships." Moran paid tribute to the tremendous fundraising efforts of club volunteers and those on committees who have come up with some innovative ideas to generate income such as the recent boxing tournament which involved the club's footballers and hurlers. Howlin said that he was impressed to learn that Bob O'Keeffe was a founder member of the club. O'Keeffe became a founder of Dunboyne and the trophy presented to the winners of the Leinster SHC is named after him. "This is what the GAA is all about, it's not about Croke Park or Leinster Council. It's about people striving to acquire new grounds for young people," he added. Monsignor Farrell said that acquiring the pitches was another big step in helping to form a strong community spirit. Chairman of the Dunboyne juvenile club Pat Jenkinson echoed the view that the pitches were badly needed as Dunboyne continued to build for the future.