Harps hit right notes
There's no doubting the future is bright for Skerries Harps GAA club. Founded in 1908, the club has been a cornerstone of the community for over 100 years.
Indeed, community spirit is one of the ideologies that Harps pride themselves in, and that was never more apparent than back in September when clubman and Dublin senior football captain Bryan Cullen brought the Sam Maguire home.
"The whole town got behind Bryan that time," mused club games promotion officer Tomás Burke.
"I suppose what makes us successful is our sense of community. The town was decorated with banners and flags and that took a lot of work. Then there were 6,000 people out on the main pitch. Everyone in the club plays a role in making sure it moves in the right direction."
Essential to the continuity of any club's success is having a strong foundation and every Saturday morning 120 children come and hone their skills in the juvenile nursery.
"That they have as much fun as they can is the main aim," explained Tomás.
"They learn the basics in football and hurling. But if they enjoy it they are more likely to come back to us every week. I also coach in the four local schools and that is where we get most of our players.
"We have teams all the way up from under-8 to under-16 and we have 45 teams, which is a healthy number.
"The ladies side of the club has really taken off over the past few years, and we now have a team in each age group in both ladies' football and camogie.
"We also run our Easter tournament and May leagues that are open to everyone, including non-members, from third to sixth class."
Burke was also keen to stress that maintaining a high standard of coaching is of vital importance.
"If you provide a good product you will keep the numbers strong," he said. "We emphasise a lot on fun and enjoyment but also that the coaching is of the highest possible standard, and we place a strong focus on coach education. Our juvenile committee deserve a lot of credit along with the endless volunteers. They are a great support and we couldn't be successful without that."
Off the pitch, Skerries are also making strides. They have recently received planning permission for the development of a new clubhouse -- another huge plus. They currently rely on only one playing pitch to facilitate all their teams -- but that is not seen as a negative.
"It would be worse if we had enough room with only the one pitch," Burke laughed. "It is full every night of the week and that is great to see.
"We need to keep improving ourselves and every team will be looking to be getting up to higher divisions.
"Last year the club's first ever minor hurling team won their championship and long may those achievements continue.
"As well as that, we would like to have players in all Dublin development squads across all four codes."
Perhaps there will soon be another Skerries Harps player returning home to a heroes welcome in the not too distant future.