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Kildangan Underage in 2010

By Declan McGrath

In 2003, with the Club up and running, a decision was made to start a Juvenile section for the youth of Kildangan.  This has proved to be the best decision that the Club has made to date as the Juvenile section has grown each year and now forms a vital source of fun and participation for the youth of our community.

The future success was not immediately apparent as Declan McGrath and Leo Hickey found themselves with an average turn-out of 8-10 children in the school yard on Saturday mornings. We would  have to admit that there were times when we wondered if it would ever get off the ground but fast forward seven years and the 8-10 children has now grown to in excess of 140! We entered our first under 8 and 10 teams in South Board competitions in 2004 and moved up an age group each year since entering our first Under 15 team this year.

Our teams have been successful in Under 10 and 12 South Board competitions and we have been one of the few rural clubs to climb to the higher divisions in some age groups. We were very proud to enter our first Under 14 team in Kildare’s Feile year in 2009. Our team did remarkably well beating all of the Kildare teams in our group and losing only to Killygarry from Cavan who went on to eventually win our division outright. We were also selected as a host venue for the Feile which drew a great response from the parents in particular as the weekend went off very successfully.
With many of our players attending the local National School, it was only a matter of time before the success of our Club teams crossed over to the Cumann na mBunscol competitions. 2007 saw the school senior team win their first ever football title, a feat they repeated in 2008, and at the time of writing they are on course to make it 3-in-a-row. Credit must be given to Mrs. Quigley and the staff at Kildangan National School for their work in promoting our games in the school. 
With almost as many girls as boys playing in our Juvenile ranks we set up a separate ladies Club in conjunction with our near neighbours Nurney in 2006. This has proved to be very successful with several trophies won and many of our girls being busy playing mixed football up to under 12 with Kildangan and also with the Kildangan/Nurney ladies.

With the rapid increase in numbers came a great need for help in all aspects of running the Club. Thankfully we have managed to recruit a good deal of parents and other volunteers to help out but there is always a need for new people to get involved. We will take this opportunity to invite anybody who is willing to give their time in any way to help out with the running of the Club as any assistance would be much appreciated. A number of our current coaches have completed the GAA Foundation Level course and some have gone on to do the Level 1 course.

In July of 2009 we hosted our first GAA Cul Camp.  The numbers surpassed our expectations with a total of 98 children taking part. It was a great week of fun and activities for the children and many thanks are due to Tadhg Fennin and his team of coaches who did a wonderful job. In 2010 we again hosted a Cul Camp, this time the attendance had grown to 111-one of the largest in the county.

With the children who started as under 8’s in 2003 now growing into young men and women, the progression from juvenile to adult level is almost complete. The challenge before us now is maintaining the momentum and bringing these young people into our adult teams over the coming years. In this regard, much credit is due to John Miller and Jimmy Hyland for their work with the older of our age groups. The youth are the lifeblood of any Club, particularly in smaller Club’s such as ours. It is up to all of us to ensure that we keep the juvenile section of Kildangan GAA Club thriving so that we will reap the benefits our efforts, both on and off the field, in the years ahead.