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The town council chambers in Fermoy were packed with Fermoy Soccer Club officials, coaches, mentors, players and some former club stalwarts, for the civic welcome afforded them on Wednesday night last.
Mayor Michael Hanley welcomed them and said it was his great pleasure to do so and to honour the club. It was through a civic welcome that the town, by extension, was also honouring the club, he explained. "You deserve this going back many years" he told them, remarking, "It's great to see you here in such numbers."
Councillor Noel McCarthy was next up with the plaudits, saying it was his soccer club and the very well deserved honour was being given on behalf of the people of Fermoy. "It's a very well organised and well run club and you have facilities bar none," he told them.
Outlining those facilities, two pitches, training grounds, changing rooms and floodlighting, he said "it takes a lot of work to get that. It doesn't happen without work. You have put the club on the map. You can be proud of your achievements. Players give 100% to the Fermoy jersey and that's great. Officers and coaches also give much time and effort" he added. He wished them continued success, expressing the hope that both junior and senior teams can retain their placing in the senior ranks. He also offered the best wishes of Councillor Noel Barnes who couldn't be present.
Councillor Olive Corcoran offered her congratulations and good wishes, saying "it's lovely to see the great work you do for the young people in the town."
Councillor John Murphy was similarly complimentary. He recalled the club's origins back in 1927, saying it was a hard time to start a socccer club but the founding members had the courage to do so. He commended them, in particular, for having the foresight to buy the land to build the facilities for the club. "They had one pitch and one team and here you are today with a number of teams and great facilities," he said. He recalled family ties with the club where his uncles' played.
Councillor Seamus Coleman had some memories of his own to share and he also commended the club's officers, committee and players on all they'd achieved in the past and wished them all the best in the future.
Tadhg O'Donovan singled out some club stalwarts for praise and said that "whoever writes the history of the club, these people will have to be acknowledged." He recalled a time when the club had an old shed for changing rooms and a tar barrrel full of water beside it. He put it up to the young players, saying "And there were better lads coming out of that than you lads here today!" That got a huge cheer and a laugh.
He also recalled the role of the former TD Dick Barry in helping the club through the years. "He ensured something that wasn't feasible four or five years before became a reality." He said his biggest applause was reserved for the committee. "Players get involved because they want to play but the committee is there because they want to build and develop the club," he said, concluding "I have confidence that, come your centenary, you will be stronger still."
Mayor Michael Hanley looked at the number of young people in the room and, pointing out that many clubs these days are decimated by emigration, asked how Fermoy Soccer Club was faring in that regard. Billy Howard, the club chairman said, they had taken a hit alright and they also had a number of players who work out of town which makes training difficult, but they were managing.
The club chairman, Billy Howard, went on to thank the mayor and members for the invitation. "You were an enormous help to us when we were building our dressing rooms. We've always had very good support from the council," he said. He'd got involved in 1970, he explained. He agreed that buying the land to establish their facilities was "the best decision we ever made" and said they now have 11 teams and an academy for six to ten year olds. "A lot of work goes in. We've always had fantastic support in the town too which stands us in good stead." He said he was delighted to see former club stalwart Pats Noonan and Eddie McConville there. He too thanked former TD Dick Barry for his help.
One man missing from the proceedings was also remembered - Jack Bowdren, a valued sponsor and club supporter down through the years, who's in hospital. Good wishes were extended to him.
Officers, members and players were then invited to sign the visitors book before all parties travelled to the Wagon Tavern for refreshments at the invitation of the town council.
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