Mayfield hoping for Munster glory
By Cian O'Connell
It has been an exciting stint for Mayfield, who continue to make progress on and off the field. A Munster Junior Hurling Final appearance on Sunday against Waterford’s Ballyduff Lower is a significant reward, but how the club have survived through demanding times remains a source of pride.
Chairman John Brennan remains an influential figure in the Mayfield GAA story explaining why things have started to improve once more. “Mayfield has gone through a transition period over the past five to 10 years,” Brennan tells GAA.ie.
“The population had become old. Our primary school which was built for 600 pupils in the 1960s was down to 60. The population has got older, all the people who played with us 10, 15 or 20 years ago all moved out to places like Ballincollig, they all moved away from the area which left us essentially with a small pool to pick from. Now it is starting to grow again, they have built houses at the back of the pitches so we have young lads coming up again, it is a cycle.
“The demographic changes were drastic. People talk about all the houses when they drive through Mayfield, but all the houses are people in their 60s and 70s. It was built up in the 1970s, people raised their families, we boomed, we had loads of numbers.
“Then they left including my own lads, one is in County Meath, the other is in west Cork, that is the way it went. It was a demographic thing, but we are rebuilding again and it is great that we are competing at all ages next year. That is good.
“There was a big housing development maybe nine or 10 years ago, that was our lifeline. Now kids are starting to come out of there.”
Having put a huge emphasis on developing facilities Brennan is proud of what Mayfield have built during the past two decades. “We have about 150 paid up members, then we would have social membership because we have a social centre as well.
“In the last three or four years we built. We had a main pitch with a stand which was built in 2002, that is where the Munster Semi-Final was played. We had a fantastic day, Bodyke came down and the Munster Council were delighted with our facilities.
“We have a stand that houses 400 people, we have a fully enclosed pitch with all the facilities there. We have a gym, a hall upstairs and then across the road we developed further. We had the land for about 10 or 15 years on a 99 year lease, but we developed a full sized sand based all weather pitch in 2013 and this year we just completed four dressing rooms there. We have three full sized pitches to call on. The only thing we don't have now is floodlights, but they will come too.
“We have a fantastic complex, it is as good as anything that is around. It is widely used by the East Cork Rebel Og for a lot of their matches, Cork development squads use it. We have one of our lads, who works as a coach with them, they use it quite a lot. We have a Ladies Football club and the Cork Ladies Football have a strong association with us, we give them the pitches as well.”
Ensuring Mayfield produce in the underage ranks is vital for the future according to Brennan. “We are putting a lot of work in at underage so hopefully it will pay dividends. We are competing at underage level, I wouldn't say we are winning a lot of titles, but we have put in a lot of work to our Academy.
“We play in the second grade. We have teams in all grades and we have a very good under 14 team this year for 2017. It will be a very good team. A lot of work is going on and that is where it starts.
“The biggest impact we had was a lack of numbers, that would apply to soccer as well. We have a great relationship over the wall with our colleagues from Mayfield United, they are a fantastic club. They had the same problems as us with lack of numbers. That was our biggest challenge, the lack of numbers.”
Mayfield were beaten by Fermoy in the 2015 Intermediate Football Final replay, but next year they will compete at that level in both codes offering Brennan further encouragement.
“We went to the Final of the Intermediate Football in 2015, we took it to a replay, but we were unlucky. In the first game, a ball went half a metre wide when we had a chance to win it, if it had been a half a metre the other side we would have won it. In the replay we were beaten, but we are competing well at that level. Football is strong within the club, but we are strong in both codes now.
“I'm a believer in it. Up above the door we have Mayfield Hurling and Football club. At times maybe you are competing with yourself, but at the same time we have to promote both codes. I always put great emphasis on that.
“We are a club on the move. We are after putting all the facilities together, now we are working on the teams and the playing side of it.
“It was great to win a County Junior Championship in Cork, that is a very difficult competition to win. You have to play a lot of matches to win it, but we got out of our own Division and we faced very stiff opposition in the County from the likes of Kilbrin and Sars in the Final, they were very good teams.
“It was great to win the County and to be up in Intermediate next year is great for us. To be playing at a higher level will be much better for the young people coming through and for the future of the club.”