Exciting times at Lough Derg FC and Birdhill AFC
The committees of both clubs have been engaging over the last number of months about a possible merger of the neighbouring clubs. While both clubs have proud traditions, in Birdhill’s case 40 years and Lough Derg FC 21 years, there is strength in unity.
Lough Derg brings a large and well organised juvenile playing base of almost 600 members and 60 coaching volunteers. Lough Dergs challenge is playing pitches. Lough Derg FC provides playing opportunity for all players, all genders, all abilities. There is a squad for everyone. Lough Derg FC is well run and has achieved both Clubmark and Clubmark 1 Star demonstrating the highest standards in governance and player development. The pitch at Clarisford Park is a wonderful pitch, and the 3G all weather pitch is a vital training facility, but the challenge is, with over 30 squads, these facilities are not enough and they are restricting the clubs growth.
Birdhill AFC is a wonderful club ran by dedicated community focused football people. The membership base is at 170. Birdhill too has achieved Clubmark certification for good governance. To the great credit of the club, they have developed wonderful playing facilities. The old pitch on Dublin road is a fine facility. The new pitch development is an amazing facility and with further room to expand on the site, the future is bright. The challenge for Birdhill has been having the numbers and coaches to support squads at all age groups, resulting in many players playing out of age group, or indeed, being lost to the game.
The committees of both clubs have agreed the following amalgamation plans at a high level.
Year One – merge juvenile playing entities and compete in NTSFL leagues as a combined Lough Derg Birdhill United squad (Names haven’t yet been agreed). This ensures there is age, gender and ability level football squad for all, both males and females. A joint committee will be set up to run juvenile football. The combined playing facilities of the two clubs will be available to the juvenile entity.
Both Birdhill AFC and Lough Derg FC club entities will remain and retain responsibility for non-juvenile football, including Junior mens, and womens football, governance, compliance, funding etc. There is no impact to these squads in the first year.
While both clubs fully intend to make this proposal work, if it doesn’t, after a one year period it can be reversed.
Year Two – assuming year one is successful, in year two we will formally merge clubs, pool all assets and liabilities and become one entity.
Once this is completed and irreversible, we will focus on facility development with the ultimate goal to develop a full size all weather floodlight playing and training facility to ensure our squads, present and future, have the best facilities to ensure year round accessibility to football for everyone in our expanded community.
Folks, this is an exciting time for our clubs. The landscape in our community is changing. The new bridge and new roads will connect communities as never before. Clarisford Park and Birdhill New Pitch will be within 5km of each other once the bridge opens. Yes, there is currently the hardship of roadworks and there will be initial hardship of merging clubs, but medium term there is strength in unity, and everyone will benefit.
Over the summer we will continue to progress the merger. Any questions or queries, reach out to any member of either clubs committee.
Yours in sport, Lough Derg FC & Birdhill AFC.