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Official Review by Peter Miles, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The last thirty years of the League of Ireland have seen a myriad of clubs attempting to bridge the gap from county football to the national league. The likes of Kilkenny City (1985-2008), Monaghan United (1985-2012), St.Francis (1996-2001), Dublin City (1999-2006), Kildare County (2002-2009), Sporting Fingal (2007-2011), Mervue United (2008-2013), and Salthill Devon (2008-2013) have all tried and largely failed to hold down a place in the competition for anything other than a limited period of time.
Cabinteely are the latest such aspirants, joining the League of Ireland for the 2015 season. Cabinteely is a small town in the southern part of County Dublin and had a couple of clubs, Cabinteely Blues and Cabinteely Boys, representing the town before the current club was formed in 1967 as Auburn FC. Five years later they changed their name to Cabinteely Boys, dropping the suffix in recent years following the assimilation of several female teams into their roster of 60 teams at all age levels.
In order to gain admittance to the League of Ireland, Cabinteely had to relocate from Kilbogget Park to the home of Blackrock College rugby club - Stradbrook Road. Cabo's first season in the National League saw them finish bottom of the table of eight clubs.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The comfortable clubhouse is behind one of the goals and serves a myriad of draft beers. The large windows make this a superb vantage point for watching the game as, strictly speaking, alcohol is not allowed outside the clubhouse.
Cabinteely has a pop-up kiosk which sells confectionery, sodas, hot drinks, and club souvenirs. The club also licenses a burger van to operate at home games. Bottled and canned sodas are served in the pop-up kiosk outside the clubhouse.
Beer is not allowed outside the clubhouse although it does not appear to be strictly enforced. The draft beers in the clubhouse are well kept and dependent on your palate, you will definitely find something to quench your thirst from their pumps.
Support is very modest and enthusiastic, but the gamble to join National League soccer may just awaken dormant support in this sleepy part of County Dublin.
The ground has a licensed capacity of 1,300 and only has uncovered terracing down one side of the pitch. It also has floodlights and a TV gantry, which represents a big step up from the club's former home. No information other than the team lineups and substitutions are announced across the PA system.
There are no seats; even by League of Ireland standards this is a pretty basic venue. Two areas of uncovered terracing sit on either side of a television gantry. Another option, especially in inclement weather, is to watch from the large windows of the clubhouse.
Blackrock and its neighbors Dun Laoghaire and Booterstown are seaside towns that have a genteel 'olde worlde' vibe to them. Just eight miles south of the hustle and bustle of the big city, it's a place to relax and take things a little slower.
The Dark Horse (31/33 Carysfort Ave Blackrock D) boasts the best hand crafted and small batch beers from around the world and comes highly recommended. It serves a European menu between 12pm and 9pm.
When in this part of Ireland a visit to the Guinness Storehouse (109 James's St.) in Dublin is absolutely essential. It is a fully escorted tour through the brewing process of this world famous drink. Enjoy a sample in the Storehouse's Sky Bar which has superb views across Dublin including the Aviva Stadium, the national soccer stadium, and Croke Park, the home of GAA Gaelic football.
Brookville House (28 Brookville Park) is a mid to high end hotel which has on site parking as well as facilities such as a hydrotherapy spa and an infrared sauna. Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire offer a large range of lodgings to suit all budgets.
Although very small in number you cannot fault their enthusiasm and they are clearly proud to wear the green and white of this ambitious little club. Cabinteely FC matches typically attract crowds of 100 to 200 people dependent on the opposition.
The fans do back their young team very well even though they have struggled to adapt to this higher standard of soccer. Because the club has an ethos of using young local players, there is a real community feel to the experience.
The ground is very easy to locate. Blackrock is a very small town; once inside you can move around wherever you like. Dublin Bus services 114, 17, 46E, 4, 7, 7B, and 84 all serve Blackrock from Dublin City centre. However, by far the easiest way to get to Blackrook is on the DART train from Connolly Street station.
There is limited free parking at the venue itself, with some spaces even giving an elevated view of the pitch. Otherwise, free street parking is available in the surrounding area although Stradbrook Road itself does have parking restrictions.
Tickets are purchased at a hut by the entrance and there are no security checks at all, no internet purchase options, and no restrictions or segregation at all, so you can watch from wherever you like.
At 10 Euros, this is a good value day out even though the facilities on offer are as basic as you will find in the League of Ireland. With no other costs other than entry and food and drink this is a good value venue. However, if you are expecting a richer stadium experience, this venue with its basic infrastructure may not be the choice for you.
The club did issue a printed program, but due to poor sales this is now only available as an internet download.
Cabinteely should be praised for the gamble they have taken in joining the National League ranks; many have tried and failed before them. With such a friendly bunch, you can't help but to wish them well in their endeavours.
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31/33 Carysfort Avenue
Dublin, Co. Dublin
+353 1 2880789
2 Main Street
Dublin, Co. Dublin
+353 1 2836424
Ossory Road, Dublin 3
Dublin, Co. Dublin
St James's Gate
Dublin, Co. Dublin
+ 3531 408-4800