Laois has been chosen as the piolt county for a GAA initiative to develop the game of rounders in the Ireland.
There are currently just two clubs in Laois, Clonaslee and The Heath, with The Heath having won the senior mens All-Ireland title in 2012. As one of the original GAA sports, it is less heralded than the traditionally more prominent games like football, hurling and even handball.
The sport is played at both juvenile and adult level, with the grades starting at U-13 level for boys and girls, and runs from there up to U-14 (mixed), U-15 (boys and girls), U-16 (mixed), Minor (boys, girls and mixed) and senior, where there are mens, womens and mixed teams also.
There are All-Ireland championships each year as well as All-Star awards, and the sport caters for a wide range of ages.
In a bid to spread the rounders gospel, an information evening will be held in The Heath GAA club on Wednesday, April 24 at 7.30pm for anyone interested in playing or coaching in their club. Any clubs which are represented at the meeting will be given a follow-up coaching session.
Clubs in fear of losing members to the game are urged to re-consider, with the majority of players on both the Clonaslee and Heath teams not active players members, with clubs actually having the potential to grow membership through the sport.
Despite there being just two active clubs in Laois at present, rounders does have a strong tradition in county. Mountmellick man Michael Dowling was recently honoured with an award from GAA President Liam O’Neill for his services to the game of rounders over the last 30 years.
In the not too distant past there were teams fielded in Rathdaowney, Killenard and Stradbally, among other places. Rounders is also a Community Games sport and offers children a chance to compete on a provincial and even national stage.
For more information contact Philip Keane on 086-1645183 or Michael Dowling on 086-8651339.