Castletown and Slieve Bloom have become the latest clubs to join forces for 2011 after both confirmed they will be amalgamating for football and hurling.
Slieve Bloom held their AGM on Sunday where the motion was passed without objection, and a special meeting of Castletown was arranged for later that day, where they also rubberstamped their involvement in the merger. The clubs will now field hurling teams under the name of Castletown-Slieve Bloom at Senior, Junior 'A' and Junior 'B' grades, while they will also compete in the Junior 'C' football championship as Slieve Bloom-Castletown.
It is believed there will be an intitial two year trial period, after which it will be decided to either continue with the project or else revert back to the original model. The Shamrocks team which the clubs fielded together for football purposes has been disbanded. The new club will also field teams in the 'A' grades for minor and U-21 hurling, and at the 'B' grade in minor and U-21 football.
Speaking of the amalgamation, Slieve Bloom secretary John Paul Campion admitted it was the desired move for both clubs. "There has been a lot of goodwill on both sides, we both wanted to make it work. We've had four meetings since the middle of December."
With emigration hitting the parish hard, Campion pointed out that without the clubs making this move, Slieve Bloom would have been left on a downward spiral. "We were looking at the situation this year where we would have asked to be re-graded to Junior B.
"Even at that, we might not have been able to field a team, so we felt that rather than taking a backwards step it would be best for everyone if the clubs joined up."
The initial idea for the amalgamation came from Naomh Eamann, the juvenile club which both clubs fielded together for the last number of years. They wrote to both senior clubs last Autumn asking them to investigate the possibility of a full merger of the clubs at adult level, so the juvenile players could continue to play together through all grades.
While predominantly a hurling area, Campion also admitted there was some hope that progress could also be made in football in the future. "There wasn't much time for football before, but with all the players training for hurling on the same nights now, there might be more time for football.
"We've been in two finals in the last two years with hardly any training done, so hopefully we can do a bit more now."
Castletown made it to the quarter-finals of the Laois SHC last year, while Slieve Bloom exited the JHC at the group stages.