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All-Stars assist the Clans' climb

Founded in 1887, Clanna Gael Fontenoy are steeped in GAA history. Some 15 teams under various guises have operated in the Ringsend area throughout the generations and the result is the vibrant club we see operating out of Seán Moore Park today.

Seen by many as a football club, there is a lot more to them than that.

All four codes -- football, hurling, ladies football and camogie -- are in a very strong position.

Like all successful sides, the work must start from the bottom up and the Saturday morning nursery is the home of more than 100 children learning the skills of the games.

Games promotion officer Jonney Sadlier is thrilled with the current state of his club, and last week took time out to speak to the Herald: "My role is, Monday to Friday, to keep the club active in the locality.


"I coach in the schools every day and the idea is to introduce all the children to football and hurling. Every Saturday then is a huge club day and we take children from under-5 level up.

"We have an astro facility and also two full-sized floodlit pitches as well as more pitches in Ringsend Park, so our facilities are top class."

Given their location, however, Fontenoy have major competition for young players from other sports, something Sadlier alluded to.

"We are right in the middle of Ringsend and Sandymount," he explained.

"If you go into Ringsend it is very much dominated by soccer, and if you go to Sandymount, it is very much dominated by rugby. At this time of the year, we get more players as the rugby comes to an end and similarly in May when the soccer ends.

"Every panel in the club grows at that time. I've been coaching in the club for five years but the older children in the schools would have been exposed to other sports first.

"We are looking into taking junior and senior infants children when we go into the schools next September, which may help in that regard, as they will get used to the idea of playing hurling and football very early on."

The club is awash with star names on the coaching side. Former Tipperary hurling All-Star Nicky English and Mayo football All-Star Dermot Flanagan as well as former Dublin star Declan Darcy are heavily involved, and all three help with running coaching courses for parents and volunteers.

Looking forward, Sadlier is in no doubt as to the direction he wants the club to go.

"Obviously, the juvenile section is the feeder system for our senior teams," he continued.

"I play hurling myself and we are senior 'B' league at the moment and our aim is to get to senior 'A' and improve our standard in the championship.

"The more juvenile players coming through the more chance we have at progression. Our footballers have been knocking on the door at intermediate level for the last few years."

In the coming weeks, Clanna Gael Fontenoy will host their annual juvenile fundraiser, known as the Gaelathon. It is a 12-hour continuous game where every age group takes part, from U6 up. It proved a great success last year and all are welcome.