Thursday 21 November 2019

Four decades of youth football

Ardmore Rovers 40th anniversary

Rob Baker, Carol Casey, Andy and Sarah Bailey
Rob Baker, Carol Casey, Andy and Sarah Bailey
Aideen Cardiff, Linda Cardiff, Declan Whittle, Chairman Ciaran O’Connor,Helen Cardiff and Fergus Cardiff at the Ardmore Rovers 40th anniversary dinner in the Esplanade Hotel. Photos: Leigh Anderson
Grant and Rachel Walker with Karen and Paul Smyth

Mary Fogarty

Ardmore Rovers celebrated its historic 40-year anniversary at a gala event in The Esplanade Hotel last Saturday night.

The Bray club, which started providing football for youngsters in Ardmore Park in Bray in 1979, is still going strong after four decades. The event brought the past and present together as generations of managers and coaches gathered for the first time in 10 years. Guests included founders Aidan and Eileen O'Donoghue, who talked about their early experiences of bringing the new concept of children's organised football to the area.

A host of ex-players Skyped in from abroad with messages of goodwill. Rachel Jenkins, ex-senior ladies international, encouraged girls to 'achieve their dream', just as she did in Ardmore. Pierce Sweeney, now of Exeter City in England's League Two, thanked all the coaches who give their time for free for the benefit of local children. Irish international goalkeeper Darren Randolph spoke from his base in Middlesbrough where he is recovering from injury. His parents, Anne and Ed, attended on the night.

'Darren Randolph is our most high profile player but we are equally proud of the achievements of our other decorated ex-players, such as Exeter's Pierce Sweeney, Bray Wanderers' Hugh Douglas and Ladies' international Rachel Jenkins. They are great examples to our young players and we are confident of providing more stars of the future,' said to club chairman Ciaran O'Connor.

Star of the night was Anne Randolph, who sang a special song celebrating the club's history that was written by Bray man Sean Sheahan.

'It is fantastic to be part of a club that has a strong community spirit running through it. Darren had a wonderful time here and we are delighted to be a part of this wonderful celebration,' said Anne.

Ardmore currently hosts 40 underage and senior teams, which cater for over 650 young people in the area - a huge success considering that the club has been homeless for 40 years.

Club Chairman Ciaran O'Connor said that it's 'heartbreaking to think that many of the guests tonight worked so hard to find a home decades ago and yet now in 2019, the club is still homeless.

'We sincerely wanted to stay away from the issue of a home ground but the matter just came coming back to the surface. Ex-members have vowed to help the club in its constant search for a permanent home,' he said.

Wicklow People