I believe the children are our future – Jarlath
A FEW years ago I was coach of Silverbridge u-10 team. Mick McGeeney was manager. Or maybe he was coach and I was manager. Anyway, we reached the final of south Armagh championship and our opponents were St Patrick’s Cullyhanna.
It was a tense atmosphere because the senior match between the sides just a few weeks earlier had descended into some of the ugliest scenes of fighting ever witnessed and feelings were quite brittle between the two clubs. But the children had more sense, the game was played in a fantastic spirit and after extra time, the sides were level.
As the last seconds of the game ebbed away, we agreed to share the trophy and both sides shook hands and headed off as winners. But officials from the south Armagh board weren’t impressed and informed us that if the final wasn’t replayed, there would be no referees for either clubs the following year.
And so, under sufferance, the rematch took place two months later and we lost and the children, some as young as eight roared and cried at being beaten.
The sight of young players, many of whom couldn’t even tie their shoelaces, wailing in the aftermath of defeat, and feeling they had let the club down, would be enough to deflate even the most battle hardened of coaches and make you question your very involvement in GAA.
Thankfully, Headquarters was plotting to intervene in this nonsense at a national level and now, thanks to research, strategic planning and a motion at Congress, no child u-12 years of age has to suffer the trauma of defeat, or find themselves thrown at an early age, into the parochial hatreds that can blight the GAA.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday August 2. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here