History of Tom Lawler Park

The decision to make an application to the Land Commission for a playing pitch for the Raheens Club was made at a meeting in Caragh School on January 9th, 1935. In moving the resolution Tom Lawler promised to do everything in his power and to lobby Government Ministers and the Land Commission in putting forward a strong case for the necessary playing field in the vicinity of Caragh village. Eventually through his endeavours and with the assistance of the club officials of the day the field became the property of the Raheens G.A.A. Club. The first trustees elected were Tom Lawler, T. P. Clarke (Secretary of the County Board) and the Parish Priest at that time, Father Broughan.

It was a few years before games were played in Gingerstown as the field needed ploughing and tilling in order to make it suitable for games. A number of games were played on the pitch during the 1950’s and one of the last teams to play there was the Curragh Command, captained by the great Cavan player, John J. Reilly. A hurling game was also played there after the formation of Éire Óg in which the late Fr. Bennett (Caragh) and the late Fr. Mahon (Prosperous) featured. The Caragh camogie team who were going strong at the time used the field as their headquarters with their pitch being situated where the Community Centre now stands. However, interest in the field waned, principally because of pitches supplied by Larry Malone and Ned Coffey which were more convenient to the players.

With the construction of the Community Centre on part of the pitch the officials of the hurling and football clubs saw the potential for re-establishing the field as the permanent headquarters for both clubs and a pitch redevelopment programme took place between 1977 and 1979. Labour and machinery were supplied voluntarily and the substantial material costs were financed through a combination of fund raising activities and grants from Central Council. Tom Lawler Memorial Park was officially opened in May 1979.

It is a tribute to those club members who developed the pitch at the time that it remains one of the top playing pitches in the County to this date. In recent years, with the advent of more and more underage competitions, the demand for the pitch is at an all time high. Despite the increased usage of the pitch, in all weathers, it has been maintained to an excellent standard. The playing surface of the pitch has remained substantially unaltered since 1979 with the exception of the new all-weather surface recently put down in front of both goalmouths.

The current club dressing rooms were erected in the mid-1980’s. Prior to this changing rooms in the adjacent Community Centre were used. In recent years the club has undergone a facelift with the upgrading of the dressing rooms, the improvements to the car-park, the erection of dug-outs and the installation of a state-of-the-art floodlighting system. The club’s u/14 team were the first team to play under the floodlights when defeating Moorefield in a challenge game in March 2006. Although the club is justifiably proud of its facilities it has become evident that additional grounds are needed to cater for the increased number of teams and players wanting to play for Raheens. With that in mind efforts are currently being made to purchase a field for a new playing pitch, which will be used by the club’s juvenile teams and as a training facility for the adult teams.