Billy Gleadell and Tony Prior laying the surface on the new petanque piste

Boule'd Over

Belturbet now recognised as the Cavan County Pétanque Club ground

One might be forgiven for thinking they’ve somehow taken a wrong turn and ended up wandering down some shaded picturesque route secondaire along the Seine if in Belturbet in the coming months.

But no! The Erneside town has stolen a march on many others by installing Cavan’s first competition standard pétanque piste.

Words like Cochonnet (small ball), Palet (puck), and Sauter (to miss a strike shot) will all soon feature in the local lexicon in this extension of facilities belonging to the Belturbet Community Bowling Club, formed in May 2005 by John Bennett and Jim McElgunn.

The Belturbet club have not only formed an inter-county league, but have also set the ambitious target of hopefully hosting several international teams when safe logistics can be arranged.

“Wales, Scotland, England, and we’d like to go to France also to play in the European Cup,” explains Billy Gleadall, whose brainchild it was to develop the pétanque playing surface.

Ireland has competed in the World Championships and the European Championships. Ireland has also been represented in the Ladies’ World Championship in 2013.

Billy and the bowling looked to the Irish Pétanque Association (IPA), set up in 1990, for advice.

The finishing touches to the initiative within the grounds of the former Belturbet Railway Station, including laying a regulation playing surface for the all-weather sport, was completed in recent weeks. In total three pétanque pistes have been installed, that can accommodate 18 people playing at any one time.

“This is now recognised as the Cavan County Pétanque Club ground. Our first inter-county game is against Sligo, and then we’ll be playing Galway after that. It has been funded by the bowling club,” says Billy.

Aside from laying the playing surface, the newly formed Cavan County Pétanque Club hope to invest further in future, by erecting fencing, and also a safe and comfortable dugout area for players.

“It was an idea we had in the Men’s Shed originally and we were looking for all-weather and inclusive activities we could do. We were also very conscious of Covid, and what social activities could be done around that. One of those activities is that everyone can throw a ball. Really it’s no different to golf: you can play golf in the rain; you can play pétanque in the rain.”