Not too long ago only sixteen of the 26 clubs in the area were football only clubs but that has now changed radically. In recent years we have seen under age hurling introduced in clubs like Rosscarbery, Kilmacabea, Ilen Rovers, Goleen and Glengarriff and they have been doing extremely well, with dedicated hurling people in each club doing tremendous work.
This season another all-football club decided to take the plunge when Caheragh entered the under 10 and under 12 grades. At their AGM early in the year, the idea was put forward that the club should enter a Junior B Hurling Team as many of the club footballers actually play hurling with neighbouring clubs but wiser heads decided that it would be best to start right at the bottom with under 10 and under 12. A meeting of new hurling clubs was held in the Spring under the jurisdiction of the Divisional Board, to make plans for promoting the game and Caheragh took it from there.
Kieran Daly and Ollie Lynch, who plays a lot of hurling with Skibbereen, were the two men who took on the task of rounding up the young lads and teaching them basic skills. With great help from under age club chairperson, Jane Gill, and committee members, Marie Connolly and Marion Russell, they turned to the County Board Coaching Committee for guidance and County Coach, Tom Nott, was of tremendous help. But it was from their own division that the real support came and Denis Keohane of Bord na nOg, along with John Dineen of the Junior Board, were tremendous in supporting the new venture.
Hurleys were acquired from the Board, subsidised helmets were made available, the parents fell in whole-heartedly and a great new venture got under way last April under the guidance of Kieran and Ollie. If you want a job done, ask a busy man and so it was with Ollie as he is also busy building a house locally and planning his wedding in August. The GAA was founded on such marvellous volunteers.
Of course, the vital ingredient was the youngsters themselves and they have taken to hurling like ducks to water. With only a handful of training sessions behind them, they entered the SW under 12 league and success was instant with the team winning their first three league games, to the delight of Kieran and Ollie.
While it all looks rosy at the moment, Kieran explained that numbers is a problem now for most rural teams, with government and council planning not helping, and they are struggling to field under age teams in most grades. He sees the day when rural clubs will be fielding eleven-a-side teams. But for now the hurling is flying in the club and on Tuesday, 1st July, the effort was officially launched in the club house when Cork hurler, Tom Kenny, was on hand to talk to the players, boys and girls.
A large crowd of children and parents turned up for the launch, with John Dineen, Development Officer, representing the Board. Kieran and Ollie had everything ready as John presented a set of hurleys to the club and congratulated them on a great start to their hurling adventure. He praised the efforts of Kieran and Ollie who were working so hard with the young players.
Club chairperson, Jane Gill, thanked Kieran and Ollie for their great work and had words of praise for Denis Keohane of Bord na nOg and County Coach, Tom Nott.
Tom Kenny addressed the children and parents and congratulated the club on taking up hurling. He, himself, is from a small club, Grenagh, and knows what it is like to struggle for numbers, but with the right approach, anything can be achieved and he had no doubt Caheragh were going down the right road. He congratulated the young players who have started their careers on a winning note and encouraged them to always listen to their coaches and practice, practice, practice. He looked forward to the day when a Caheragh player would wear the county hurling red jersey.
A Cul Camp, catering for football and hurling, is being run by the club and the chairperson announced that the County Coaching Committee is sending a team of hurling coaches to the club later in the summer and they will give six separate two-hour coaching sessions. They were really looking forward to that.
The launch concluded with a welcome cupan tae from the ladies committee and with hurling having been successfully introduced in Caheragh there are now only three clubs in the division who donít cater for our national sport. It has been a great achievement over the past few years and the target of 100% is within reach. Well done to all involved.