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Cashin Cup class augurs so well for the future

IT was a sight to cheer up a cup of Optrex. Brilliant first touch and vision. Every pass came with a yellow hat.

In order words, every player on the pitch was trying to be constructive on the ball. Row Z wasn't invited to the party.

The range of passing sometimes measured 25 to 30 yards - the ball arriving at feet to a player in space like first-class mail.

It was hard to believe the kids were still Under-12. But that's the Q mark the DDSL and NDSL reached out at the Oscar Traynor last week.

"If people came out to the games, they'd be surprised by the calibre of the players," stresses Will Clarke, who manages the DDSL Cashin Colts with Barry Ferguson, Ciaran Heffernan and Eddie Meaney.

"We have some very gifted players and so do the NDSL. Indeed, all the Leagues have," added Will.

"We need to be developing more technically gifted footballers. We must get away from the kick and rush style of the past.

"We focus on performance rather than results. It's crucial that the children play without any fear.

"We don't want them to have the pressure of expectation where they feel they must win the game. It's all about giving them the confidence to develop their skills.

"If a kid makes a mistake, so be it. It's not the end of the world. After all, they are only Under-12.

"Great credit is due to the coaches at all the clubs. They are doing terrific work, week in, week out.

"I think it augurs well for Irish football. And hopefully in the coming years we'll see a lot more talented players coming through."

Over the years, the likes of the Dutch looked so at ease in possession compared to players from this side of the world.

And it was all down to the work that was done with the ball from the time they were tots. Lap after lap won't turn your boot into a pillow.

Will states that Irish football is now going down the right road. And watching the poetry out in Coolock, it's easy to believe him.

And as the lads strove to to ther best out on the pitch, not one word of negative criticism came from either bench. That's the environment where young players grow.

Will is a busy man these days. He's the Director of Football at St Joseph's Boys, Sallynoggin. Before that he spent three years as a Development Officer with the FAI.

He's happy with the progress of the DDSL in the Cashin Cup - one draw and two wins from three. But as he says himself, it's not about the results.

"So far so good. We are improving with every game we play, so that's the most pleasing thing from our point of view.

"We played reasonably well against Kilkenny in our first match. We upped it then against Wexford and then moved it on another bit against the NDSL.

"But it's still very early days for this team. And all we want from the boys is be the best they can be and let us worry about the mistakes."

As they say, a man who never made a mistake never made anything.

It brought to mind Jamie Redknapp's comment on the SKY 1 show, Football's Next Star, the other week.

The central defender hit a short back-pass. It led to a goal.

At half-time, Jamie didn't start to throw the cups against the concrete or turn over any tables. He simply said: "I have seen some of the greatest footballers in the world make mistakes like that."

Will Clarke would certainly agree.

E-MAIL: niallscullyfootball@eircom.net