Merlin Woods success story continues

The club was founded in 2012

Seán Dunleavy has made a significant impact with Merlin Woods.

Seán Dunleavy has made a significant impact with Merlin Woods.

Nearly a decade in existence Merlin Woods has made a significant contribution to sport.

Seán Dunleavy has been one of the leading figures in a success story that illustrates the relevance and value of community.

"If we go back to the very beginning, Pat Burke was contacted by people at the Family Resource Centre in Doughiska. They were asking whether we would like to become involved in football in the community there in Doughiska.

"We gave a positive indication, it all started from there in October 2012. So we are close on 10 years on this journey. What a wide and varied journey it has been."

Initially it started when three children came along kicking football and the club has developed significantly.

"We made contact with Don O'Riordan, who had returned to Ireland and by March 2013 we were really getting our teeth stuck in," Dunleavy explains.

"We entered our first team at U14 level into the Galway League in 2013/14 and it continued on from there. Now we have girls teams at U10 and U12, we have boys teams from U8 to U16 and we have a junior team too."

It is a multi cultural environment which adds to the satisfaction levels that so many people are becoming involved with Merlin Woods.

"You have a whole mix of nationalities there, they are bound by the locality that they live in," Dunleavy says.

"We sought to get football up and running, we helped with the athletics side of things, we have been involved in basketball projects. We work reasonably well with the GAA in the area, we help out with the Family Resource Centre around various issues with youth development."

That willingness to provide assistance means those charged with administrative duties are generally adaptable.

"When you are involved in a community - schools are involved, the Family Resource Centre is involved, the church is involved, local transport issues are involved," Dunleavy adds.

"There is a cricket club, it is just very early days - a few of the nationalities that is their first love. We have tried to accommodate them as much as possible."

Ultimately a spirit exists with people relishing the sporting opportunities offered. For Dunleavy, though, despite the challenges the essence of sport hasn't been lost.

"It is very enjoyable, that is the main reason for being involved," he says. "We get great enjoyment from it and the children get great enjoyment from it, the parents and coaches."

The way it should be.

**Listen to the full interview with Merlin Woods Seán Dunleavy on this week's 'Cian on Sport' podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.


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