Thursday 19 September 2019

Swords kids inspired by Dubs hero

The Paul Flynn School of Excellence returns to Fingallians as dubs legend inspires the next generation

Dublin player Sean Bugler with young players at the Paul Flynn School of Excellence camp in Fingallians
Dublin player Sean Bugler with young players at the Paul Flynn School of Excellence camp in Fingallians

Ken Phelan

Dubs GAA legend Paul Flynn brought his not inconsiderable coaching skills to his home club Fingallians GAA last week, offering sage advice and teaching expert skills to youngsters at the Paul Flynn School of Excellence summer camp.

The camp, which ran from August 6 to August 9, allowed young players to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the club's seasoned players, allowing them to hone their skills and further their game.

Fingallians' up and coming stars, all aged between twelve and sixteen took part in the four day camp, coached by some of the club's top players from the men's and women's teams. Just in from the first day of camp held last Tuesday, Paul explained that although the focus of the camp was on building skills, it wasn't all about hard work: 'It's not your typical camp, we treat them more like adults; it's really looking at the tactics of the game, obviously concentrating on skills and the components of it, getting them active, but also just trying to reinforce the importance of fun, and the reason why we play sport is to enjoy it and to be active and to make friends. So there is a culture in the camp that brings all those key components to the fore.

'When I was starting off my career with Dublin, or a couple of years into it, I just noticed there was a big gap from twelve years of age up to sixteen, and there were no camps in Dublin, or not many in Ireland for that matter. I felt it was a missed opportunity, but also we were seeing in Fingallians that it was an area where we were losing kids, and we wanted to kind of engage them in a fun camp.

'So it's only four days, there's plenty of games played, but there's plenty of breaks in it, so it's not about stretching them too far, it's to encourage skill development but also fun, and really keeping them engaged in the game in a nice way.'

He said: 'A key part of that was having role models there, having inter-county players, men and women there as the coaches, and having role models within the club as well there who are coaches, so it helps with that pathway to keep them all engaged. We also have a gym and we have other field-based games like rugby or tag rugby and things like that, just to get the sense of different games, and how you can learn from different sports.'

Paul is well-placed for coaching and offering advice on the game. Over an illustrious career, the legendary Swords player collected six All-Ireland titles, ten Leinster titles, five National Leagues and four consecutive All-Stars.

Having just retired from inter-county level last May, Paul still plays for Fingallians, a club to which - along with a personal sense of drive and commitment - he credits his own personal success, , as he explained: 'Fingallians played a key role in my development, as a coach but also as a person as well. Even when you're in school, if things are good or things are bad in school, the club was consistently always somewhere

'I was able to grow and develop and use it as an outlet as well, and sport can be great for that.

'For me, It was always about setting the bar high, taking myself out of the comfort zone, commitment to the challenges that were put in front of me and really just being determined to keep getting better. It's being clever in how you approach the game, how you learn not just from your mistakes but also on the areas that you can work on and being determined enough to work on them and get better.

'There's no one thing I'd put it down to, because in sport or in anything in life, it's hard work and dedication that kind of make the difference.'

With a player of the calibre of Paul Flynn's as coach, the young players of Fingallians GAA Club who enrolled in the School of Excellence doubtlessly learned a thing or two about the game.

Fingal Independent