Future of the game is in capable hands

LADIES’ Football President Mícheál Naughton should do the Lotto. He can see into the future!

head of the All-Ireland Under-16A Championship final, Mícheál was sharing his thoughts.

“I think it will be one of the best matches you’ll see all year,” he predicted.

And that’s exactly what it was. A match for the ages. Dublin and Cork producing a game for all seasons.

It was a duel that would have graced Croke Park itself, the venue for Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland finals.

And the beauty of it all was that it was pure, natural football. There wasn’t a clipboard in sight.

The only buses being parked were the two coaches that brought the teams to the home of the Cahir club in Tipperary.

As he looked forward to the contest, Mícheál added: “I’m anticipating a fast, free-flowing and entertaining encounter between the two teams.

“Hopefully, many of the Under-16s will go on and have long and successful careers in our sport.

“And when they’ll look back in the years to come, I’m sure the Under-16A Championship final will be one that they will talk about.

“It will be an occasion to remember. And a night to create memories that will last a lifetime.

“These are the days for young players to cherish. Being part of a team. It can be such an enriching experience.”

The President could have written those words after the game instead of before it. It was an evening to treasure.

It was like a match that was played in the school yard. Young people expressing themselves. Enjoying themselves. Having fun.

And all thriving in an environment of encouragement. The mentors play such a vital role in it all.

Fintan Keeling managed the Dublin team. The mentors were Mark Kelly, Triona Leonard, Eamon Bryce, Aidan Mulligan and Orla Keeling. The management also included Derek Byrne, Megan Campbell and Fiona Armstrong.

Dublin’s achievement owes so much to their dedication, but as Fintan Keeling relates: “There’s mentors in every club, all across the country, giving their time.

“They put in the hours to bring on the young players. To help them develop as players, but, more importantly, as people

“It’s all about helping them. On and off the pitch. Fair play to all the mentors for their commitment.”

“If these girls keep playing football, we are going to have a great senior championship in the next few years,” commented the Cork Under-16 manager, Dominic Gallagher.

“This is just a part of their journey. And I feel that Cork and Dublin people can look forward to some wonderful games in the years to come.

“Two outstanding teams gave us an exhibition of football. And both sides displayed such exemplary sportsmanship.”

The Dublin manager, Fintan Keeling, can also see the big picture. “If these young players keep working hard, and continue showing the same commitment, there is no doubt that we will be seeing them in Croke Park before too long.”

Fintan has seen the effort the young Dubs put in. And he’s grateful for all the support of their parents and their clubs.

Big day beckons in Croke Park

THE biggest day of the year. The TG4 All-Ireland finals in Croke Park. Unfortunately, on this Sunday, no Dubs in the pre-match parade.

But there’s still so much to look forward to over the weekend. Not least the All-Ireland Sevens.

Naomh Mearnóg host the event. And they are the masters of their art. It’s one of the most celebrated days of all out by the sea.

No doubt, the Mearnóg Ground Force crews have been busy preparing the venue, which is one of the finest in the country.

With their neighbours, St Sylvester’s, Mearnóg open their doors to welcome teams from all over the country and abroad to enjoy what is always such a special atmosphere.

Currentaccount.ie are the sponsors. Football and fun will decorate the menu in such a scenic setting.

And then, across the city, the Beacon Hospital Kilmacud Crokes All-Ireland Under-14 Sevens will also take place. The inspirational, and much missed, John Sheridan, cherished this day more than any other.

And like at Mearnóg, the occasion is all about good football and good friends. And looking forward to the big day in Croke Park.

The Royals will once again walk on the red carpet. Up against the Kingdom (4.0). Three matches will enhance the turf, starting with the Junior final (11.45) as Antrim meet Nathan Carter’s Fermanagh. Then it’s the Intermediate final (1.45) as Laois play Wexford before the big one. Tickets: ladiesgaelic.ie.

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