East Belfast camogs ‘frustrated' by failure to find a pitch for provincial debut

The camogs of East Belfast celebrate their Down junior championship final win over Ballela, but the club is struggling to find a pitch to host its first-ever foray into Ulster this weekend against Killeavy

DOWN junior camogie champions East Belfast may have to give up home venue this morning because they cannot find a suitable pitch.

The club, founded two years ago in the middle of the first Covid lockdown, won its first-ever Down title on November 6 with a 1-5 to 0-4 victory over Ballela in Clonduff and have since been preparing for the first

round of the Bridie McMenamin Shield, an Ulster competition.

However, efforts to source a pitch for the game against Armagh champions Killeavy have been fruitless and yesterday afternoon the club made a plea on its Twitter account.

It read: “Once again, our club is finding it difficult to find a pitch to field our teams. Our camógs (representing Down in the Ulster Championship) cannot find a grass pitch!

We will be forced to

play away if no venue before 5pm TODAY. Can anyone help?”

East Belfast GAA chairperson Kimberley Robertson last night said that they had asked Ulster Camogie Council for some more time while they chased up a couple of possibilities.

“Initially we had proposed to play the game at the

Dub. But that was turned down because it wasn’t enclosed.

“Then we asked for the 3G pitch in Cherryvale where we train. Apparently games at Ulster level have to be played on grass pitches unless both clubs agree to play on 3G.

“The grass pitch in Cherryvale is completely closed at the moment, as are plenty of club pitches in the local area,” said Robertson who has spent “most of

the last few days on the phone”.

“We are a Down club, a new club without a pitch and we want initially to play our first-ever Ulster championship game in our home county,” she added.

“We have been in contact with Sean Óg [McAteer, Down GAA secretary] and we have been working on different leads for club pitches in the county, even though some would be much closer for Killeavy supporters than for our own.

“Obviously the heavy rain in recent days hasn’t helped.

We are still waiting on a

couple of clubs getting back to us. We have even tried Belfast clubs playing in the Antrim leagues, but to no avail either.”

East Belfast GAA were in the headlines earlier in the summer after it was proposed by Belfast City Council that unused pitches in Victoria Park could be assigned for use by the club. However, loyalist criticism saw the plan abandoned.

It is understood the council is working to source a

pitch for them in the east Belfast area, but nothing is likely to happen for a while yet.

“It is very disappointing and frustrating to be honest,” said Robertson.

“We fully understand why clubs are resting their pitches at the moment, but it will be a huge disappointment if we have to play our first-ever match in the Ulster championship outside our county.”