Friday July 29th 2016 – a date that will go down in the history of Shiven Rovers forever. When their name was announced, an explosion of euphoria engulfed the Minella House Hotel in Clonmel, as the FAI witnessed celebrations á la Shiven Rovers. For a small, rural country club, this recognition of their hard work, forward thinking, and exceptional personnel was remarkable.
Shiven were up for the award in the Facilities category, and their presentation of what they have mightily impressed the adjudicating panel. 3 full sized pitches- 1 of which is floodlit, a floodlit astroturf pitch, fully equipped gym, function room, 6 dressing rooms, equipped Physiotherapist’s room staffed by a fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist – a long standing member of the club, meeting room, and kitchen, as well as storage facilities, extensive car parking, a shop and wheelchair accessible toilets, all highlighted the great strides made by the committee and club members over the last 20 years, when they started out with a bare field – “the field of dreams” as it were.
As part of the judging process, the club produced display boards showcasing these facilities, as well as the community involvement in this exceptional club, how the facilities have been used by different groups from the IFA to Special Olympics; from underage soccer players to those old enough to have more sense – the Masters’ team; from the hosting of a christening party, to the afters of a wedding; from a fashion show to a Mass. There’s not much Shiven hasn’t seen or hosted. However, the icing on the cake, so to speak, was the cup-cakes iced in Shiven colours with an edible club crest on top. What judge could refuse such goodies?
To illustrate the level of commitment from the members of the club, a party of 12 people travelled down to Clonmel to make the cause and forward the cause of the Galway side, whereas many of the other clubs present had less than half that number. The professional nature of their display boards, allied to the Youtube video they had recorded showing the Shiven facilities in real time, along with interviews with various people from Shiven, the Roscommon & District Youth and Schoolboys’ League, referees and even some former players who are in other parts of the world all gelled to portray not only, a hard-working, progressive, inclusive football club, but also one that isn’t going to sit down, clap themselves on the back and congratulate themselves on what they had done. No, there was an ambitious 5 year plan for the future. Development of facilities specifically for the Womens’ and Girls’ side of the club; provision of a walkway/running track around the pitches to facilitate any parents/club members who might want to use it; further work on the car parks, and the erection of dugouts on pitches 2 & 3, as well as turning pitch 1 into an All Weather facility is no small list of things to do, but who would bet against this talented and diligent group achieving every one of them?
The coup de grace for Shiven, and one of the ultimate goals, is the hosting of an International match in Shiven, to bring a previously unseen standard of football to the West of Ireland, the Roscommon and District League, and to Shiven Rovers in particular. Maybe the judges were amused by the club’s audacity, but they were also impressed by it, and don’t be surprised if this dream becomes a reality in the next couple of years.
To return to the night in question, and the announcement of the winners, it was an elated and euphoric group who celebrated the winning of the award, none more so than club Chairman Sean Gavin, who received the award from Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O’Neill, and also received congratulations from FAI CEO John Delaney, an old friend of Shiven’s, and indeed, from all the other clubs who had been nominated for this prestigious award. Cue high fives, back slapping, hugs, photographs, and even, yes, a few quiet tears for some, to depict just what this award actually meant to the Galway club. After that, it was an all-night celebration – which was only the precursor for the rest of the weekend, as Shiven showed the FAI how to celebrate Shiven style.