On Monday 29th May 2017, St Catherines GAA Club opened their club ground to three local schools in their cachement area. Conna NS, Curraglass NS and Ballynoe NS.It was a great day for everyone involved from the pupils to the teachers and all the club members who were in St Catherines to coach the young children on the day.
Over 325 pupils from infants to 6th class from the three schools arrived at the pitch ready for a day of fun, GAA games, coaching and skills and to top it all off a visit from rising Cork star Kieran Kingston on the day, the 325 pupils were accompanied by teachers, school staff and SNA’s who all arrived to make sure the day would be a fun day for all the children.
Speaking with Noel O’Brien one of the chief coordinators on the day who said ” It is great to see so many young children in the two pitches here, having fun and enjoying themselves through GAA with the cooperation of all involved in the club and schools.”, he went on to say “a lot of work has gone into coaching in the schools by both teachers, the club and outside coaches and its great to see them all taking part today”.
When the club came up with the idea to have a coordinated fun day for all three schools they had to approach the different schools and come up with a suitable date for everyone. They spoke with Scoil Chaitriona Ballynoe Principal Mary Mulcahy, Curriglass National School Principal Bryan Mccarthy and Conna National School Principal, Micheal O Maolcatha and when all schools had agreed to the date the club had in mind it was all systems go.
Then the club enlisted the help of the following club members to act as coaches /tutors on the day. Brian Sheehan, Junior Sheehan, Kieran O’Brien, James Spillane, Mervyn Draper, Alan O’Mahony, Lorraine O’Sullivan, Paul O’Connell, Aine Mulcahy, Ed Ahern, Sarah Barry, Laura Hayes, Caoimhe Galvin, Megan Draper, Aoife Hurley, Martin O’Keeffe, Yvonne O’Neill, Caoimhe Hayes, Rory Galvin, Michael Walsh and chief coordinator and schools coach Noel O’Brien. When you add in the committee members and club members who were all on hand at the pitch during the day Club President Dick Morrison, Tom Morrison Adult Chairman ,Shane O’Connell Juvenile Chairman & Imelda O’Connell greeting every single parent teacher and child as they entered the club gates you can start to imagine the work going into this very coordinated effort from all stakeholders.
Now, you have a lot of people in the pitch, but with a good plan of action it all ran smoothly on the day, starting with the infants, 1st & 2nd classes on the pitches from 9 am to 12 noon and then you had 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes on the pitches from 12 noon to 3 pm. These groups were further divided into 6 station areas on both pitches. With each station doing different skills and drills from penalty shoot outs to kicking a ball or hitting a sliothar through a tyre to rope ball drills ladder drills, cross bar challenges, sideline cut challenges, nearest the pin, leap frog and numerous other fun games for all children taking part, after a set time each group moved around the field from one skill section to the next.
The beauty in doing things this way meant that the teachers, all though present on the day didn’t have to carry out these skill sections themselves, and gave them time to watch over the whole proceedings and talk with the other teachers from the different schools and possible pick up a few coaching tips from observing the activity on the field. The club had the manpower on the day and this made it all look so easy.
When young Cork hurler 19 year old Shane Kingston arrived, he walked from group to group offering advice, saying hello and posing for photos with all the children, all the time answering the many different questions young children can often think up from “what team do you play for” to which one smart child in the group replied “he plays for Tipperary” to questions on technique and how he felt after the game against Tipperary last week etc.
Shane in fairness to him answered every question and even took part in a penalty shoot out when asked to have a go from some of the players there (he was as accurate with both feet as is is with a hurley). When he finished with the first set of groups everyone gathered at the dressing rooms where he spent a further 20 minutes signing hurleys, helmets, shirts and schoolbags for all the children before he went back out onto the pitch to meet the second group of children.
Shane O’Connell Chairman of the Juvenile club said in conversation while walking around the different sections keeping an eye on proceedings that it was important to get these young people playing with the local club, we are lucky to have a great group of people and the schools are fantastic. As chairman he can stand back to day and take the proverbial pat on the back for the sterling work he and the committee have put into the young players in their club.
All in all this was a great day for the club, the schools, the coaches, the teachers, the parents and
most importantly the young children from the three local schools. Well done St Catherines GAA Club.