Game on! County’s underage players return to training

The Éire Óg U-15s were made a long awaited return to training in Loughglynn on Tuesday evening. Pic: Mick McCormack

Tens of thousands of children were back on training fields across the country from Monday last under the latest loosening of the Covid-19 restrictions. Clubs have been welcoming back all age groups from the youngest up to under-18s with hundreds of coaches looking after the players of all codes.

The experience gained from dealing with the protocols associated with Covid last year has also proven a bonus as clubs begin to prepare for competitive action later in the year.

Roscommon footballer Cathal Cregg is the Connacht GAA Games Development Manager and he says that the return to training has been hugely positive and well received by coaches and players alike.

“Most clubs are back since Monday night and our ‘Be Ready To Play’ programme has proven to be very useful to clubs and coaches. We want the kids to enjoy their training now that they are back and we want to guard against injuries because after long periods of inactivity injuries are a factor. There are no matches yet but the focus will be on skills and other activities for the moment.

“The fact that we had to deal with the Covid situation last year means that coaches and clubs are familiar with the rules and regulations and it is making things much easier,” he said.

The Western Gaels man says that there is help available for all club coaches on the GAA website.

“There is a ‘Be Ready To Return to Play’ section, and on that there are details of webinars every second Tuesday which will be a big help to all concerned,” he concluded.

Roscommon Gaels are one of the many clubs who have been looking after their underage players since Monday night. The club chairperson, Teresa Hession, says that there has been a great buzz since the big return to training.

“All our age groups from U-7s upwards have been back training since Monday and that includes football, hurling, ladies football and camogie. We would be catering for two to three hundred children every night in the pods of 15 and less,” she said.

“The children are delighted to be back and we have plenty of room in Lisnamult for everyone. We have a very good system for the parents to leave their children to training and to collect them afterwards and that’s working very well within the regulations. We also have our Covid-19 officers in operation with every team and everything has been going really well”.

Teresa concluded by saying that the lockdown period has not resulted in a reduction in numbers.

“If anything our membership has increased and there is a huge interest from the children and their parents in being involved with the club.

“The only two sections of the underage club that have not returned yet are our Academy and our All Stars and we will welcome those back later in the summer when the vaccination programme is fully rolled out. But for the moment we are very happy to be back with our underage training,” she concluded.