herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Margaret's build from ground up

They are perhaps a unique club among the Dublin GAA landscape. While many have benefited from increasing populations and housing developments in the last 10 years, St Margaret's playing pool has remained the same and at some points even dropped.

What they are doing in the north county, however, is building from the ground up. Juvenile chairman Paddy Finnegan has a unique way of assessing the situation. He says: "Our first team is our youngest team. St Margaret's is unusual in that there has been little or no development in the area over the years -- it has almost been a red zone in that regard -- and our adult teams possibly suffered because of that.

"So we really place the emphasis on juvenile development.

"We are working from three very small schools in the area to give us our playing pool. But in the most southern part of St Margaret's, developments like Charlestown and Lanesborough mean we can tap into those areas too."

As Finnegan mentions, the juvenile structure of the club is paramount to their future. He is full of praise for the GAA's games promotion officer scheme, which has assisted Margaret's in improving that side of their club.

"We have had a GPO since 2004, and last year we went the whole way and employed a full-time coach, Paul O'Donovan.

"Paul has his sports degree from DCU and he has helped enormously.



educating

"Obviously he is great at training teams but he has also contributed to the recruitment of new members as well as educating the other coaches. We have 14 juvenile teams and we only had two teams 10 years ago, so that shows the benefit of the work being done."

Facilities-wise, Margaret's have made massive strides forward in recent times. Floodlights, drainage improvements, a fully-equipped gym and an activity track supplement their extensive playing fields.

In what is very much a community-based club, members' commitment is vital and people like Peadar O'Connor and Hughie Smith ensure that everything is maintained to the highest standard.

Although delighted with the direction the club is taking, Finnegan was keen to lavish praise on Margaret's ladies football side, which has thrived in recent times.

"We are really doing well in ladies football," he explained.

"We have three girls on the county minor team and two on the under-16 team. For a club as small as us to have five players involved in county teams is a great achievement.

"But we also have a good few young lads on various development squads."

Going forward, Finnegan has a very positive outlook for the future of the club and is confident they are moving in the right direction.

"We were a senior football club from 1940 to 2004," he mused. "It is always our aim to get back there.

"But there is a realisation that the only way we can get back is to have a strong juvenile section.

"If we can have a grasshopper team every year we will never be weak at adult level and that's what we want to maintain."

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