This week we will see the finest school teams in the country in hurling and football compete for the Croke Cup and the Hogan Cup.
St Kieran’s college have already secured the Croke Cup and this weekend we will see St Pat’s Maghera compete for the Hogan Cup.
While I never had the same success when I was at school, I do have great memories of playing Camogie for St Mark’s High School under the stewardship of Mrs Paula McClorey.
Our great rivals at that time were St Malachy’s Castlewellan and we were lucky enough to have some success over them to make it through to the Ulster Championship were we would come up against St Pat’s Maghera or St Mary’s Magherafelt.
This usually finished with us getting a bit of a hiding and it’s probably a trend that continued to this day unfortunately!
School sport plays a significant part in the development of a player, when you are between the ages of 12-18 you start to learn about the big bad world and how you fit into it with the proper coaching it can help shape a young person’s character. The biggest drop off for playing sports is also between the upper end of this age bracket.
The benefits of playing sport at school are easy to see, it offers a relief from the mix of emotions that a teenager goes through and also offers being able to play in a safe team environment that helps keep young people from hanging around streets.
Learning to be a part of a team while also learning to overcome challenges and defeats reflects the challenges that kids are likely to face later life.
Besides all that serious stuff there is also the most important fun factor which is all too often forgotten about! We had so much fun playing sports together when we were growing up so much so that we can still laugh about it today!
To be honest playing camogie influenced so many of my decisions when I was growing up, I played for the primary school, played in St Mark’s where it definitely helped me mature in 4th and 5th year to choosing the college that I wanted to go to in Jordanstown all because they had the best Colleges Camogie team in Ulster.
There is a fine line though for Young GAA players and they have to remember that while sport will be an all consuming passion for the next twenty years education is the most important thing. You have a long life after you finish playing so getting the most out of your education to make a career while using all the things you have learnt through sport will leave you in a strong place.
My sporting life started in school and from 12 years of age I played camogie for Down u14 to joining the senior panel at the end of my 16th year.
All good things must come to an end though and this year I have decided that other things in life have to take priority. While this is not a grand announcement I would just like to say thank you to everyone I played with or under over those years with special mention to our current county chair Deirdre McGrath who has always been extremely supportive of our senior team in recent years.
My mum and dad have clocked up many miles on the family taxi over the years to and from trainings or matches and for always being a constant support they are always the first people I hope to see after a match.
I’m looking forward to supporting the rest of my siblings and hope to see Charlie and Ross in the red and black of Down. Best wishes to the current team and management, I hope you have as many good memories that I did over the years.
On a final final note I would like to wish one of my very best friends Ursula all the best on her wedding day today to a good Cushendall man Ciaran. I hope you both have a great day and best wishes for all the years ahead.
I know that Jerry will be a very proud Daddy looking down today.