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No place like the Nells' new home

MALACHY KEENA drives into Parnell's. Malachy does the scoreboard in Parnell Park.

From Mullingar, Coolock has been his home for many decades.

His son, Mal junior, played for Parnell's for years. A diligent, compact defender who used the ball simply and wisely.

These days, he keeps up to date on his old team from Sweden.

It's raining back in his home town. For Dave Feeney, it's another busy day. He's the general manager of the new Parnell's complex.

Dave played on the brilliant Parnell's team of the eighties that stormed Dublin and Leinster. He also rose to the top of the tree as a referee. He was in charge of that pulsating 2008 Dublin SFC final replay when Jonny Magee's two goals helped Kilmacud Crokes defeat St Oliver Plunkett's/ER under the crystal chandeliers.

Dave has fond memories of the club's old base beside Dublin Airport on Collinstown Lane. "We had some fantastic times there, but this is the future now."



Spacious

It's a different world altogether. The Parnell's spacious state-of-the-art building is bright and cheerful, and it carries the hum of a busy village. It has provided jobs for the locality and ensured top-class facilities for the present generation, and the generations to come.

The walls carry many pictures of the Parnell's past -- teams and heroes that kept the engines going. It's early enough but already there are people in the gym. Conor Mortimer is in charge there.

Further down the corridor, Johnny Murtagh grabs a quick bite before the lunchtime rush. Conor and John are two of the footballers' marquee names.

John and Malachy lead the way to some of the other amenities on the premises -- the all-weather surfaces, large dressing-rooms, Jacuzzi, boardroom and function room.

The club host big gigs. Dickie Rock has been here this month. Red Hurley will be on stage just before Christmas. Mary Byrne has also performed. Tickets are priced at ¤12.50. All the shows are sell-outs.

There's a splendid view of the main pitch from upstairs where people are having their lunch. Fergus Carroll of NEAR FM (90.3) has popped in.

"The key to it all is that we are right in the heart of the community," states Dave, who sits down for a quick cuppa.

"It has been marvellous for the people of Coolock, Artane and Kilmore. So many clubs and organisations use the facility. Our membership has really expanded.

"The older people have especially taken to the place because it's friendly. The place is packed every day for lunch. They feel welcome here.



Thriving

"We are also happy with the progress of our teams. Our juvenile section is thriving. We have a couple of hundred kids here every Saturday and Sunday morning.

"The adult squads are going from strength to strength in the football, hurling and ladies football. We are lucky with the quality of the mentors."

Dave is also delighted that the venue has hosted some high profile games. "The Dublin County Board have been very kind to us in that regard. We have had a few Leinster Championship fixtures here. It was a good test for us to see if we could handle all the logistics of the people coming into the ground, car-parking, etc, and I think things worked out nicely.

"We still have more of the project to go ahead. For instance, we'd like to floodlight the main pitch."

But in the meantime, Parnell's have lit up the scenery of Dublin 5, on and off the pitch. "Long may it continue," remarks Dave . . . as the phone rings again.


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