| 11.7°C Dublin

Growing well in garden of Eden'

ST MONICA'S GAA of Edenmore have been a cornerstone of their local community since the club's foundation in 1967.

Having had many ups and downs over the past 40 years, Monica's are currently moving very much in an upward curve and there is no doubt the future is bright for the Dublin 5 side.

Kilkenny man JJ Brennan is the club's nursery co-ordinator.

He took some time out to speak to the Herald last week and told us how far they have come in terms of the juvenile structure in the club.

"We started the nursery about four years ago," he explained. "Myself and Derek Andrews decided to get something going as it is a way of keeping the children interested in the game. Our players mainly come from the three local schools: St Monica's, St Malachy's and St Ethna's.

"Our numbers are always growing. We have about 25 to 40 children now in the nursery and last year we handed over a team to the under-eights and they haven't been beaten yet so it's all going well.

"We have a good set-up to cater for the underage teams. We do a lot of fundraising because it's important to look after the younger teams first and then the rest will come gradually."

While there is a big portion of the hour-long nursery session given to teaching basic skills of the game, Brennan believes that making the nursery enjoyable is the key: "It's all basic enough stuff," he says, "but what we do is to make it like a PE class in school as well as a football training session.

"It's as much about having fun as anything else and that will hopefully keep the children coming down."

Many clubs find difficulties competing with other sports when recruiting players but Brennan believes his job as a primary school teacher in St Malachy's helps to go some way towards overcoming that obstacle.

"Being in the school I'd have strong links with the likes of the boxing clubs and the soccer clubs," he said.

"What we do is we try and come to an arrangement with the other local clubs so we can arrange to work around each other - so there is a good understanding there.

"It works out well, especially for the younger ages."

Brennan was also keen to mention the tireless work of the various mentors and volunteers in the club. "Patricia Monahan is doing unreal work on the ladies side," he continued. "Mark 'Bulldog' Lyons, is doing brilliant things with the under-14s, while Paul Kelly, Philly Kelly and Anto Kelly are always out training their teams. Jay Murphy and Glen 'Squishy' Murphy are starting out with their under-eight team and, as I said, they are unbeaten."

Brennan is in no doubt about where he wants the club to be.

"We just need to keep working along in the nursery and that and please God we can win the Junior 'A' football as well. We are knocking on the door for a long time so hopefully this is our year."

St Monica's nursery takes place each Thursday in Edenmore from 5.30-6.30pm. Contact JJ Brennan in St Malachy's boys school on 01-8478952 for more information.