| 13.1°C Dublin

Finian's feeling ready to grow!

WITH playing facilities to rival any club in the county and a community with an ever-increasing population, St Finian's of Newcastle is a club which can have a very positive outlook on the future.

"It's only in the last few years that we have seen our population increase," explained club chairman Con McCarthy.

"Up until then there was a very small population in Newcastle. The club compares more to a small rural club than to a city club. Even still, we only have 50 or 60 playing juvenile members over three or four teams."

There is little doubt that Finian's can benefit from the development of new residential areas in the village.

However, it is not just a case of sitting back and waiting for it to happen.

McCarthy believes that building key relationships with the local schools holds the key to their progress: "The biggest thing we are trying to establish are strong links with the local national schools.

"We need to get our faces in front of the schools and make ourselves known. To that end we are very lucky in that there are a number of teachers who are very enthusiastic about GAA.

"Eugene Kelleher, a young teacher from Kerry, ran our summer camps and has a mighty interest in football and does massive work for us.

"Without that it would be very difficult for us. The fact he was leading camp meant that the pupils would be more inclined to come down and they can get involved in the club that way."

Finian's are certainly in a position to host successful summer camps. The playing pitch on Aylmer Road is as good as any other around and is one of the most important when it comes to venues for the Dublin football championships.

Despite all the positives, however, McCarthy does point out that there are still hurdles for them to climb when it comes to attracting players but that they are in the same boat as anyone else.

"Peamount United are a very successful soccer club and are right beside us," he explained. "They are a big attraction for kids there is no doubt. But all sports have their challenges in trying to get children to play for them and we are no different. It's always a challenge to get them down and keep them interested.

"The biggest thing for us is to get parents involved too. That's something we need to work harder on as well. Very often the organisational side of things is left to too few people. We need to teach the parents a bit more on what is necessary to keep things going."

Going forward, McCarthy is realistic about the future of St Finian's but also optimistic. The message is clear -- continue in the same vein to take advantage of the positive aspects already in place and build from the bottom up.

"We have developed strong links with the schools and now we must take advantage of that," mused McCarthy. "We need to build membership from the ground up from nursery right up through the club."