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At least this Offaly sod can be trampled on afterward

WHAT is it with Brian Cowen and bailouts?

That's the question being asked in football and hurling circles this weekend with the news that Clara GAA Club, of which the former Taoiseach is president, is looking for a dig-out from clubs and individuals across the country to help them out of a €2.5m financial black hole.

The massive debt has arisen as a result of Clara's ill-fated decision to purchase 12 acres of land on the outskirts of the town in 2008, with a view to the development of six new pitches and a new clubhouse there.

However, having completed the deal to acquire the property from the local Sisters of Mercy, Mr Cowen's club found themselves deep in debt when their agreement to sell their existing ground and clubhouse to a developer fell through as a result of the economic downturn.

The property remains on the market, with the former Taoiseach's brother, newly-elected TD Barry, acting as the selling agent in his other capacity as the director of estate agents DNG Cowen.

As the club awaits a buyer, the cost of servicing the loans on its new facilities at €100,000 a year is beginning to bite.

In a desperate bid to pay down their debt, Clara GAA Club is organising a Monster Draw, which is due to take place at the April Offaly County Board meeting.

Tickets for the draw cost €100 and prizes include a weekend for 30 adults at the Aspire Training Facility, a set of jerseys for 30 adult players, and a set of kit bags for 30 adult players.

Outside of the ticket draw, Clara GAA Club has also initiated what it terms a 'Sponsor a Sod' scheme to fund their new pitches, with each individual sod priced at €20.

Not a bad price when one considers just how much a sod from Offaly can cost.

Sunday Independent