BY TOM LYONS
UNDER the guidance of GDA James McCarthy, GPO Paudie Crowley and Carbery coaching officer Charlie Wilson, GAA coaching in West Cork has come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade.
Most of the coaching is geared towards underage players, especially in the secondary schools in the area, and recently a very pleasant double function was held in Clonakilty GAA headquarters in Ahamilla during which presentations were made to the players of the Carbery Academy and to the secondary schools in West Cork.
Chief sponsor of the event was Laide and O’Brien of Bantry, who have been associated with the Academy for a number of years and also generously backed the new initiative in the schools.
Paudie Crowley welcomed the large attendance of players and parents and explained the aims and actions of the Carbery Academy. Geared towards 13-year-olds, the Academy aims to include all players from all clubs in the area. Any player of the age is free to attend, most of the sessions being centred in Clonakilty and Skibbereen in October and November, football and hurling. Coaching is organised by James McCarthy, Paudie Crowley and Cork underage mentor, Gene O’Donovan and at the end of the course, Carbery tops, sponsored by Laide and O’Brien, are presented to all the players. The presentation of tops took place at the function in Ahamilla.
Last October/November 18 clubs were represented at the Academy and these included St Colum’s, Kilbrittain, Clonakilty, Ahán Gaels, Ibane Gaels, Castlehaven, St James, Sam Maguires, Owen Gaels, Newcestown, Kilmeen, Courcey Rovers, Bandon, Bantry Blues, O’Donovan Rossa, Muintir Bháire, Gabriel Rangers, Kilmacabea and Beara.
The second presentation on the night involved all the secondary schools in the area being presented with footballs and sliotars to be used mostly for first years. Most of the boys and girls leaving primary schools have taken part in the Sciath na Scol football competitions but many give up Gaelic games in first year. A few years ago the Carbery Board, under the guidance of the late, lamented John Corcoran, introduced a special football competition for first year students. The Herlihy Cup was presented by the Herlihy family of Dunmanway in honour of the late Dr Michael Herlihy and the competition has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It is now one of the highlights of the school year for first year students.
This year plans are being drawn up to introduce a similar competition in hurling and as a first step, it was decided to present sliotars and footballs to the various schools. The presentation was backed by the Carbery Board, the old Coiste na nÓg in West Cork and Laide and O’Brien. While the initial presentation was made at the function in Ahamilla, each school will be visited in the coming weeks to complete the presentations.
Chairman of the Carbery Board Aidan O’Rourke addressed the large gathering, thanking coaches James McCarthy, Paudie Crowley, Charlie Wilson, Gene O’Donovan and the teachers in the schools who were doing a tremendous job in promoting Gaelic games in difficult circumstances. The Carbery Academy had proved to be a great success, open to all young players irrespective of ability. The Herlihy Cup was one of the highlights each year in Carbery GAA and he thanked the Herlihy family in particular for their wonderful support. He expressed delight that a new hurling competition was in the pipeline for first years and he encouraged all schools to become involved.
The presentation included the convents in Clonakilty and Bandon, to promote camogie and girls’ football. The chairman emphasised that this wasn’t just about playing Gaelic games but about making friends for life and interacting socially with other children, which was vital in school life.
The presentation of Academy tops to the young players was followed by refreshments and the next step will be the visits to the schools to present the playing gear. Among the secondary schools involved are Hamilton High School, Bandon; St Brogan’s College, Bandon; Clonakilty Community College; St Michael’s, Rosscarbery; Skibbereen Community School; Schull Community College; Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí; MICC, Dunmanway; Sacred Heart Secondary School Clonakilty, andColáiste na Toirbhirte, Bandon.