TWELVE months of hard work and planning came to fruition in Dunmanway when over 80 young teenage players graduated from the Carbery GAA Academy and were presented with their tops, to be proudly worn for the coming 12 months.
With the Carbery crest emblazoned on the front of the tops, these players will be readily identified as having come through the academy that has been operational now for a few years. At the beginning of the year U13 players, born in 2005, from all clubs in West Cork, were invited to attend training and coaching sessions, football and hurling, with a select band of coaches, under the management of GDA James McCarthy and Carbery coaching officer Mark O’Donovan.
These training sessions were held in blocks of six, with Clonakilty and Bantry as centres, and every player attended over 20 sessions during the year. Matches were played against teams from other regions.
The academy players who graduated on Saturday will now take part in the Herlihy Football Cup for first year students in the secondary schools and will attend trials in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in January. Following those trials, a panel of 30 will be picked to represent Cork West in football in tournaments and development squads. The selected hurlers will join up with Carigdhoun and Muskerry to form a squad. Players who don’t make those panels will again be invited to attend trials the following September for U15 squads. Nobody is ruled out of the system as late developers are catered for.
In attendance at the Academy presentation in the Parkway Hotel on Saturday were the players and their parents; Academy managers, James McCarthy and Mark O’Donovan; coach Paudie Crowley; county coaching administrator, Kevin O’Callaghan; chairman of the Carbery Board, Tom Lyons; secretary of the Carbery Board, Donal McCarthy and Academy sponsor, John O’Brien of Leydon/O’Brien, Bantry. Special guest speaker, who presented the tops, was Fionn Herlihy of Sam Maguires, a Cork minor footballer and Hamilton High star, who is himself a graduate of the academy.
The large gathering was addressed by Tom Lyons, who asked the players to always appreciate what was being done for them as players, to grow to love Gaelic games, to be ambitious, to work hard at improving their skills and to really enjoy what they were doing. Fionn Herlihy spoke of his experience as a young player and how enjoyable playing games could be while James McCarthy thanked the parents for their encouragement
Coaches in the Academy include Paudie Crowley, Shane Crowley, Pat Gilmore, Maurice Moore, Seán O’Leary, Conan O’Donovan and James McCarthy.
Clubs represented at the presentation were: Bantry (12 players), Clonakilty (11 players), Bandon (eightplayers), Ibane Gaels (five players), Castlehaven (four players), O’Donovan Rossa (four players), Owen Gaels (four players), St Colum’s (four players), Sam Maguires (three players), Newcestown (three players), St James (three players), Muintir Bháire (three players), Clann na nGael (three players), Gabriel Rangers (three players), Kilmeen (two players), Carbery Rangers (two players), Kilbrittain (two players), Ilen Rovers (two players), Kilmacabea (one player), Ahan Gaels (one player), Mizen Rovers (one player).