Last Friday wasn’t the first, and probably won’t be the last time that Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney came to Kinnegad.
Performing the official launch of Kinnegad Juniors AFC’s spectacular new 9-a-side astroturf pitch surface at the club’s Lagan Park venue, Delaney said that he first came down to the M4 town to talk football in 2005.
Then, he met with some of the club’s first officers, Colm Gildea and David Flood, to talk about getting the club off the ground and eventually securing its own pitch.
“Every time I come here, I can see the improvements,” he said. “More kids, better facilities; it’s something that’s great to see.”
Representatives from the Breedon Group – of which Lagan Park’s main sponsor, Lagan Cement, is now a constituent part – were present, as were a host of politicians, including the public works minister, Longford-Westmeath TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, and his fellow deputies Peter Burke, Robert Troy and Willie Penrose.
Most important of all were the hundreds of players, members and volunteers – young and old – who came out in droves, donning the black and red of Kinnegad Juniors in a special day for the club.
Chairman Darren Burbridge gave the audience a run down on Kinnegad Juniors’ progress since 2005. “It’s been a long road to get to where we are today,” he said. “But thanks to the drive, generosity and support of many people, we were able to dream bigger and realise the vision you see in front of you today.”
Darren paid tribute nearby landowner Gerry McGuire, who donated the additional land for this project; Community Finance Ireland, for getting it off the ground with a €60,000 loan, and everyone from government to local householders and businesses for assisting the club in its development over the years.
Before leaving, the FAI chief announced that he had brought €5,000 in funding to support the Kinnegad club in its future endeavours.
Meanwhile, one of Kinnegad Juniors’ longest-serving officials, Mick Ronan, had a tear in his eye, as Delaney revealed that he is to be presented with a prestigious Service to Football Award at the FAI’s forthcoming annual general meeting.