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Having a Boughal!

THEY were once one of the most feared teams in the Fingal area. Ballyboughal enjoyed many competitive years in senior championship football after their foundation in 1935.

Currently, after a few barren years where they went back as far as Division 5 in the AFL, they are building gradually once again. They won the Dublin Junior 'A' championship in 2009 and now ply their trade in AFL 3.

Consolidation is their first priority for now, but it is obvious that Ballyboughal are doing something right given the quality of young footballers that have emerged from the club in recent years.

Club chairman Gerry Rooney believes it is testament to the work being done in the club that they have had no less than four players - Gerry Seaver (2010 and 2012), Richard Downey, Gavin Dungan (both 2010) and David Downey (2012) - involved in Dublin's All-Ireland U21 successes in recent times.

"We have four lads with All-Ireland U21 medals, which is great," he enthused.

Competing

"From that aspect it is great as youngsters can look up to these lads. It's great for the club as well to get acknowledged in that we have players out here who are capable of playing and competing at such a high level."

Looking at the clubs underage structure, Rooney pointed out that although they are quietly satisfied they do have some problems when they get to U14 level and above.

"We are perhaps a unique club in that we almost have a 50/50 ratio in terms of boys and girls," he explained. "We come into difficulties when the girls go out on their own after under-12 and then we struggle for numbers.

"We amalgamated with our neighbouring club Clann Mhuire at underage level and play under the name St Peter's. It's worked out well for both clubs. But we do find it difficult when players get that bit older and have other distractions. We try our best to keep things going and feed into the adult teams."

Although Ballyboughal have a fine playing field just off the Naul Road, Rooney says their big aim over the next few years is to locate and develop more playing areas to cater for their growing numbers.

"We have just the one pitch and it comes under a bit of pressure, especially in the summer. Then when the weather is bad, like at the moment, we come under more pressure.

"We are trying to acquire another piece of land. It is difficult, despite the fact there is a lot of land around it is farming land, so people are reluctant to give it up. But hopefully in the next year to 18 months we can get another pitch."

Develop

Looking further ahead, Rooney is confident that the club can continue to develop on the pitch, but also sounded a note of caution in terms of how quickly they can move up the adult ranks. "At the moment, we are looking at retaining our status in Division Three," he said. "I suppose like all clubs we have been hit by players going abroad to find work. Richard Downey and Gavin Dungan are in America for the summer and Greg Rooney has immigrated to Australia, so our adult panel is suffering.

"Smaller clubs like ourselves can find it tough. But we will be happy to consolidate our position for a couple of years and feed more young players through and then kick on again."