The rugby season is upon us again with the Connacht Junior League starting earlier than usual this year with the first round of matches underway the first weekend in September ensuring that clubs all over Connacht are well into pre-season training. That’s not the only activity going on in Heffernan Park down Creggs Road as Ballina Rugby Club have embarked on an exciting new development that is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a committed and hard BallinaPitch350working membership who seek to drive the club forward both on and off the playing field. The project being embarked upon is the construction of a 3000 square metre Astroturf pitch which can be subdivided into three pitches. This will be a welcome addition to training facilities in Heffernan Park which will make training in the recently increasingly challenging winter weather a much easier endeavour. The pitch is being constructed to the highest standards and will be a great addition to sporting facilities in the Ballina area, as it will be available for hire to teams and clubs who wish to train on it or groups of friends playing seven and five-a-side soccer. There is already talk of the popular Tag rugby league being extended into the winter, and all interested groups and clubs will be able to avail of the pitch by the end of September when the work will be completed. During the building of the pitch top soil and land fill is being redistributed to previously unusable areas of the grounds and finished off with a sand surface which will mean that the area available for training on will be greatly increased by 4000 square metres. The work is being carried out by the very reputable SportsWorks Company which has worked in Lansdowne Road and Croke Park. Great credit is due to a dynamic subcommittee consisting of John Raftery, Marc Loftus, Ivan Heffernan and chaired by Brian West who came up with the idea of building an Astroturf Pitch and is responsible for researching the project, drawing up the plan, securing funding (no easy task in the current economic climate) and after overcoming many hurdles eventually have seen it come to fruition. This off field endeavour compliments the on the pitch activities which are in full swing as training has recommenced with a large turnout by the players in preparation for the 2011/12 season. Director of football Cory Brown and his players are looking to improve on last year’s excellent season which saw Ballina finish third in the league, runners up in the Junior cup and winners of the Cawley Cup. New players are always welcome and training is on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 8pm in Heffernan Park. There will be two preseason matches played at home, one against Enniskillen next Saturday 20th Sept (3pm ko) and the annual James Hoban Cup match against St Sennan’s of Limerick the following Saturday 27th for those who wish to come and see for themselves what’s going on in Ballina RFC.              

From left to right: John Raftery (Chairman), Marc Loftus (President) and Jack O’ Keefe (Hon Secretary) – Corinne Beattie Photography.


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