With the snowy Dublin mountains as an inspirational backdrop, our first game of the new season got underway at 12 o’ clock today on our new astro home in Stepaside. A draw at half time and full time, the tension was fierce as was the commitment.

What a game – worthy of an entry fee in Croke Park, the Ger boys settled down to their task with vigour, once they ran off the final remnants of the Christmas turkey! The fantastic supporters braving the snow and the cold on the sidelines cheered them on and were a very proud and satisfied bunch at the end of the game, with a final score of 2 goals and 9 points for the Gers, and 3 goals and 6 points for Kilmacud (albeit yours truly scored it slightly different and in our favour!!)

We started a little sluggish, with Crokes going 3 points to nothing up within 5 minutes, where their half forwards were running through us without challenge. Max started the game in goals, and was very steady, catching a couple of dropping balls and making a number of important saves. His kickouts started finding their range after a few minutes and we began to work the ball up the field, with good movement from midfield and our two wings. Luke then took over in goals, and had a blinder, with some great saves and very clever kicks out. Minus a gumshield meant he could not play outfield – sorted for next week! Seamus stuck to his task at corner back from the outset; very strong in the tackle and working hard not to let his man turn him – arms out with hard tackling the norm. Cian C played his usual role on the other side with some tight marking and keeping his eyes open for interceptions. Conor R alternated between full back and centre back, using his strength under the dropping ball and marking Croke’s biggest forward for a lot of the game where even giving away 6 inches in height, he did not falter or back down.

Our wing backs were Ruari and Paul – Ruari bossed this match with his power and determination to win the ball, showing huge awareness of what was happening around him and having a massive influence on the game. An early switch with Paul to the other side of the pitch proved important for both of them – resulting in Gers curtailing the Crokes wing forwards who had started very well and giving both boys the freedom to move up and down the pitch. Paul once again showed great speed and distribution skills and battled well throughout the game, with a couple of fine catches rounding off his game.

Conor K and Byron led the charge at midfield… both of them having tremendous games – winning primary possession from kick outs, some excellent runs and huge credit to Conor for leading the block down statistics – inspirational that also had Hubie following him up with more blockdowns! Byron’s engine proved to be vital for us to keep Crokes at bay in midfield. I would also pick out a couple of overhead catches from both of them – fantastic to see – one ball was so high it came down with snow on it! Daniel C also covered midfield for a period in the second half as well as up front. Good reading of the game, great hands, pace and strength in the tackle singles out Daniel.

Mathew F had a blinder with an excellent all round performance including some key scores and link play from centre forward… he really has developed into a fine gaelic footballer. Hubie played wing forward for much of the game – showing his usual pace and ability to make space for himself – getting on the end of a huge number of passes and generally being a key target man for us. But he also worked very hard in defence, working back time and time again, including one fantastic block down. Eoin H was another key player for us today once he got up to the pace of the game, picking of 3 lovely points at key moments for us. Brian H covered the whole pitch for us – starting corner forward, using his pace to get ahead of his man and inside Croke’s defence a number of times… linking up very well as usual. He also played wing back for a period in the second half where his speed was used to great effect.

Cian M started the day full forward and was a little unlucky a couple of times not to get through for a score. He then covered in the full back line for a short while before hurting his hand. But for the last portion of the game he was back in the full forward line again – doing what he likes best – taking shots! And he finished the game by taking a fine score right at the end with a 25m free kick. As usual – a cultured right foot, just like his mother! Conor B played most of his football up front today – and simply doing what was required of him – “get in there and take some points!” – and he did – with excellent positioning, scoring 2 vital points early in the second half to settle the sideline nerves. Well done Conor. Finally James also played his football up front today – getting involved on a number of occasions on the left side of the field, making sure we kept our shape by staying wide and up front, and making life difficult for his marker.

All in all, a great start to the new season. We were missing a couple of key men for us today – Vincent, Cian D, Mathew B, and Adam come to mind straight away – guys we need you back in action!

I am also short some email addresses, so if you see a name missing you might pass this on and get me the email address.

We also have a few more missing (that could also play U11 as well as with us)… Harry H, Conor G, and Naoise for example… need to get them back in the fold!

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Skills…

Great to see kicking with both feet today… some excellent examples – keep practicing boys.

Some great high catches also on display.

With 13 a side – you really need to be marking up – we’ll be working on that in training… Darren showed a great exercise last monday night we’ll use a few times over the next sessions.

Attacking – will need to work on what the full forwards do when we are attacking from midfield… ie make space and loop around to give options and follow in as support…

Core strength – the boys are getting bigger! Doing basic press-ups and planks every day at home will make a huge difference this winter… but they must do them “to failure” ie. for as long as they can until they have to stop… needs encouragement… can be done in front of TV!!!

New GAA rule means you have to have gumshields for training and all matches… gloves are also vital at this time of year. Plus warm training layers on Monday nights! And a drink.

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New Season

This is a new season – we are now in a one team league under 12s. We will have a panel of 17 – 20 players, playing 13 a side competitions. There is a blitz at the start to help gradings – we are in Group 2 Dublin South. Make no mistake, we have a very talented bunch of players that if we can keep them together, they will go on to do great things… including playing for the boys in blue! We just have to be careful of where we are positioned as the very big clubs now do serious streaming – we want to be competitive and also playing at a high standard.

Given the numbers in the panel, we will constantly have challenge matches as well as league games so that we can rotate players and ensure everyone gets match practice, while at the same time competing well in the league… as you know, everyone has good days and bad days so we will need to be flexible in terms of subs and rotation… but everyone will get match time each match. We will also look at playing a few players U13 for challenge matches to build their confidence, and for others where they are under age, playing a few U11 games as well – the more games and more practice the better…

Money!

We will be doing club registration in the next 2 weeks, and will also be selling the club gear… more info to follow.

So – you will need €100 registration, probably another €30 for new gear (we will try to subsidise as best we can – Thanks again to Conor Murray for stepping up to sponsor the team for 2013 – really appreciated). At some stage we will also need a few bob to cover Monday nights in Stepaside…

We plan to do something at 12 o clock each Saturday for the next few weeks… ideally a match. We have the slot booked in Stepaside. We will be playing Cuala 12 o clock next Saturday.

Support

To be fair, we have a great set of parents as support to the squad… every bit helps folks (as the other coaches on the sideline know only too well!!)… and between the soccer and the football we all know each other – so we encourage sharing of lifts to training etc… We would also encourage any help we can get – currently looking for;

Team Registrar – help us get the forms and money in over the coming few weeks

Water bottles person… responsible for team hydration at training and matches when possible…

Player statistician!… GAA development tell us that telling the boys their key stats from a game e.g. how many catches, passes, kicks, block downs, tackles etc as well as scores and wides – is hugely         motivational… ensures that everyone gets some feedback and glory! Could do with a couple of volunteers… we can share the load.

Official Team Photographer!  We have a few great cameras among us… would love to get more photos at matches and then filter down to pass to parents as well as put up on our new club website             (which is nearly developed).

When we are back playing matches on grass, continued help with setting up in particular (always have great help post matches to be fair) – this will make sure we warm the boys up properly before the match.

As always, if you have any questions or worries just give one of us a shout… we think we have a happy panel of boys and are mindful of ensuring good behaviour and support between them etc… anything happening contrary to that let one of us know.

See you all on Monday night.

Bryan, Dave, Ed and Shay.

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