Ballincollig GAA club's underage work sees numbers boom

Despite their nickname 'The Village', the Muskerry outfit have a massive pool of players, leading to success such as the recent P1 U15 football victory
Ballincollig GAA club's underage work sees numbers boom

Cup of joy: Captain Darragh Lee and the Ballincollig U15 footballers celebrate their Rebel Óg P1 county final win over St Finbarr's at Páirc Uí Rinn.

BALLINCOLLIG juvenile section are reaping the rewards of a full-time schools coach, a hard-working committee, and great coaching buy-in from a plethora of volunteers.

All these ingredients along with thriving numbers at underage level have combined to ensure the progressive club appears destined for a very bright future.

Various underage teams in both codes are representing the club this season with great distinction and achieving success in many grades which augurs well going forward.

Ballincollig recently won the Rebel Óg U15 Premier 1 football championship after they defeated St Finbarr's in a county final. They also added a Division 4 Hurling Shield for their second team with a combination of U14s and U15s.

Current club chairperson James Lynch, who is also involved as a selector with the U15s too, was thrilled with the players' efforts in upsetting the odds against St Finbarr's in the football and then defeating Inniscarra in the hurling second team competition. 

"They are a very talented team. They have worked hard and they have improved a lot in recent years. This is their first success in this age group in football. 

"A lot of their success is down to hard work. 

They have displayed a great attitude and the right mindset going into games. Their success is down to everybody involved within the club. Everyone has played a part in their success. 

"A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes from a lot of people with these players in both codes,” he said.

A sensational display by full-forward Adam Dodd, which saw him score 2-6 was crucial to Ballincollig claiming the county final. The towering 14 was well supported by an array of hard-working players, who gave everything to the cause in rain-soaked conditions. 

“He is a good prospect. He is a good player. He trains well. 

"He has a great attitude. He played very well in the final but the whole squad played well on the day.” 

The Ballincollig U15 Division 4 hurling team that recently beat Inniscarra to win the Shield.
The Ballincollig U15 Division 4 hurling team that recently beat Inniscarra to win the Shield.

Lynch hailed the ‘good structure’ that exists within Ballincollig Juvenile Club that has enabled them to compete on so many fronts in both codes, which includes former Cork minor and U20 hurling coach John Dwyer working in the local schools. 

“We have a good structure in place in relation to all the teams. We have a strong committee. It is important to build a good team. We are one of the biggest juvenile clubs in Munster at this stage. We have close to 580 registered juvenile players. 

"We field from U5 up to minor. They are huge numbers, but these numbers in turn require a big number of coaches involved with each team. It is a good headache to have. 

"With the younger groups in particular, we could have 70 or 80 players involved at a particular grade. We would be looking at having 20 to 25 coaches involved with that age group to ensure the right balance is maintained. It requires a big commitment from a lot of people to facilitate the demand from the underage players.

“We are getting great buy-in from the parents and the coaches as most teams would be training two or three nights a week with a match at the weekend,” he added.

With so many players operating at underage level in both codes, communication is vital within the club in ensuring that everyone’s needs are met and the club grounds are available to host training sessions and games. Especially when the camogie and ladies football sections in Ballincollig are also thriving. 

“We have specified times for youth development from U5 level to U12 level on Wednesdays and Sunday morning. These days and times are set in stone and are not moved. It works well as everybody gets a pitch.” 

FACILITIES

They have upgraded two of their pitches in recent years.

“The club has great facilities. Even in the last 12 to 18 months, we have put a substantial amount of money back into the pitches. 

"It needed to be done to ensure our players have the best facilities which means they can train and continue to develop their skills. We have two floodlit pitches and an astroturf pitch. We have three full-size pitches, a 4G astro pitch and a 12-a-side pitch. We are always looking to improve our facilities.” 

The juvenile club chairperson said a key appointment within the club in recent times was the appointment of a full-time coaching officer who is employed by the club. 

“It was vital we had a presence in the local schools. John Dwyer has done an unbelievable job. 

Since his appointment, our numbers at juvenile level have doubled. The main thing is to get players from the local schools out playing and enjoying themselves.” 

Lynch said all the other juvenile teams all enjoyed successful seasons this year which gives them great encouragement for the future, including an U12 double.

“We were competing in the P1 level in both football and hurling at the championship level. The U15 hurlers also reached the semi-final of the county this year. 

"The U12 footballers and hurlers won their leagues. We were competitive at every age grade. We are a proud dual club. Another encouraging factor is the low dropout rate in the different grades. We have two teams at every age group which ensures every player gets regular games. Our aim is to get as many players through to the adult grade and to keep the whole cycle going.”

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