Blarney and Bishopstown GAA clubs combine to improve underage standards 

Blarney and Bishopstown GAA clubs combine to improve underage standards 

John Crowley, primary co-ordinator, Bishosptown GAA; Fachtna O'Connor, the new games promotion officer, and Paul O'Leary, coaching officer, Blarney GAA Club. Picture Denis Minihane.

BLARNEY and Bishopstown have joined forces to develop the underage sections in both clubs.

Facthna O’Connor has been appointed as a Games Promotion Officer for the two areas, working in conjunction with club members and schools.

O’Connor, a native of Cullen in the Duhallow region, started in late September, with an official launch of his new role taking place recently in Bishopstown GAA club.

“I am very excited to be working with the clubs and look forward to meeting all the members, coaches and players over the coming months,” he said.

“So far it has been a pleasure to work with both clubs and it is obvious that both clubs have great people in place at all levels from the coaches to board members. I have been really taken back by how forward thinking both clubs are and this is clearly evident by the creation of this GPO role the first time this has happened at club level in county Cork.

Martin Lynch and Paul O’Leary, Blarney, and John Crowley, Bishopstown, have been critical in ensuring O’Connor’s job has been a success to date.

A host of schools will benefit from the link-up, including Gaelscoil Mhuscraí, Rathpeacon NS and Scoil Chroí Iosa in Blarney, as well as St Josephs NS, Scoil Spioraid Naoimh and Gaelscoil Uí Riada in Bishopstown.

“It was great to meet all the teachers and pupils in these schools and they were very excited about having this resource not just for promoting GAA in the school but to get children active,” said O’Connor.

While the medium-term benefits will be increased numbers in the underage ranks in both clubs and higher standards across the board, the emphasis initially is on the basics.

“The main focus for sessions in the schools is based on Fundamental movements. This is your running, jumping, agility, balance and co-ordination skills. It is well known that children are not as active as previous generations due to a sedentary lifestyle so a skill such as jumping on one leg to me or you may seem simple but to kids it may be very difficult.

“I am putting a major emphasis in all my sessions on making sure that kids are using these movements through fun games and activities. All these sessions are very inclusive so it is not aimed at the strongest or sporty children but that everyone can take part and feel like they are contributing and the main thing: having fun.”

O’Connor, aged 25, holds a BA in Business Studies with Sports Management from Limerick Institute of Technology. He has worked with the Cork GAA Games Coaching Administrators to organise Cúl and Rebel Óg camps and provided skills coaching and fitness training to various development and regional squads in Cork.

He previously lined out for Cork at U16 level.

“The level of co-operation between these two clubs is to be commended and represents a template for other clubs in the future. We are thrilled at their innovative and collaborative approach and encourage their communities to embrace Fachtna O’Connor’s training and the vision of the clubs,” said Ronan Dwane, Cork County Coaching Officer.

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