East Cork Football innovation will benefit young players in the Imokilly division

East Cork Football innovation will benefit young players in the Imokilly division
Derek Barrett, Imokilly, holding off Clonakilty's Colm O'Donovan in a 2003 SFC clash. Picture: Dan Linehan

EAST CORK GDA Shane Supple has initiated a novel new tournament for post-primary schools in the East Cork region.

The football tournament which commenced recently is aimed for first and second-year students in Imokilly. It is for players who are not currently making their schools’ first team and it is aimed at the U14 and U15 grades.

“I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out. We think it is a good idea. It is borne out of necessity really. The concept is mainly to get all the schools in the area involved in playing football,” revealed the coach education officer.

The GDA coach was happy to lend his expertise and knowledge to the idea when various secondary schools in East Cork suggested a new tournament for their footballers to gain more experience and improve their skills.

“From going into different schools in East Cork, I was getting a lot of feedback on the importance of a new tournament for this age group who are not getting regular games.

“Primarily it is for first and second-year students, but not necessarily the starting 15.

“We are looking at the bigger school teams who have big panels. We are hoping the 20 or 30 players currently outside their first team will gain valuable game time in this competition.

“It will give these lads an opportunity to represent their school team with pride while gaining invaluable match experience which will aid their development.

“East Cork is traditionally regarded as a hurling stronghold, but the East Cork Board are always anxious to promote football. We had a lot of secondary schools who were anxious to take part which was a great start.

“When I went to the board with this idea, they were very supportive and hopefully this initiative will work.”

Imokilly board members Donal O'Keeffe and Michael O'Brien presenting East Cork GDA Shane Supple with the James Colbert Memorial Cup.
Imokilly board members Donal O'Keeffe and Michael O'Brien presenting East Cork GDA Shane Supple with the James Colbert Memorial Cup.

Six school teams are involved in this novel tournament. They have been drawn into two groups and the winners of each group play in a final.

The final is scheduled to be played in May 2019. The Imokilly Board have kindly donated a trophy The James Colbert Memorial Cup for the winners of the league and Rebel Óg Coaching have sponsored a trophy for the winners of the Shield.

“Every team will get four games including their final appearance. They are guaranteed to play one home game and one away game.

“Finishing the tournament in May allows the various school teams’ who are busy with other sporting commitments the time required to play all their games.

“It also means more players will be getting more valuable time on the training field honing their talents. It is important to grow the footballing tradition in schools going forward.

“It is vital we don’t let talented players who are not making the first team at present fall away from playing.

“All these schools are based in big catchment areas with growing populations. This tournament will hopefully help as it allows them progress and develop.”

Shane is very confident this new initiative will aid the players’ development going forward which will be a huge boost to their clubs and division.

“I am very positive this tournament will help improve the players. These players are performing well for their clubs, but when that season finishes and they don’t make their school team, they might not be experiencing any match action for a long time which affects their progress.

“This competition will ensure they are training with a purpose and playing games which will bring them on.

“The more training and games they are exposed too, they more they will develop as players.”

The desire and support from the various schools’ and the club teams based in the Imokilly division for this new tournament greatly pleased Shane.

“The response was great from all sides. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

“These players might not have played any football over the winter period and they might have slipped away from the sport, but this tournament will provide them with fresh impetus.

“The players will get more training and game time which will ensure they go back to their clubs as fitter and better players, while they will prove a vital asset for their school team going forward also.”

This initiative comes hot on the heels of the Imokilly Board announcing they are going to enter a team in the 2019 Cork senior football championship which is a great boost for the region according to Shane.

“It is great news and very encouraging as they haven’t had a team entered in recent years. It is great for me as the GDA in this area that they are putting out a senior team as I can encourage players to keep developing and progressing up as far as adult level with both their club and divisional teams.

“It gives them an opportunity to test themselves against the best players in Cork. It will help me in terms of getting more young lads involved in football as it gives them a reason to keep training and aspire up the ranks.

“The players taking part in this tournament could well be playing senior football for Imokilly in a few years time if they keep progressing.

“That should be their goal. To improve as players for their club, school and divisional teams.”

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