Plans are afoot, ultimately, for the school to step into the elite bracket within two years
There was a hefty delegation from Louth GAA at Ardee Community School last Thursday evening for the presentation of medals to the respectively successful U14 and U16 teams.
Senior team manager Mickey Harte attended, along with trainer Gavin Devlin and S&C coach Ciarán Sloan, and past pupils now on the Wee panel – Tommy Durnin, Liam Jackson, Tom Jackson and Cathal Fleming. Another Louth player, Dermot Campbell, a teacher in the Deeside institute, was there having been a selector with the U14 team that won the Moore Cup and North Leinster B crown in a coaching ticket that also included Mark Gilsenan and Seán Hand (Louth GDA).
The U16s, of course, delivered Leinster and North Leinster B glory under Anthony Durnin, Declan Finnegan and Sloan, who was in as part of Darver’s commitment to turning Ardee CS into an A-grade competitor within the province.
Plans are afoot, ultimately, for the school to step into the elite bracket within two years and while other education hubs can justifiably question the concentration of resources towards Ardee, it is probably the right approach. The Community School, after all, caters for a wide selection of clubs, probably greater than any other outlet in Louth.
After Thursday’s ceremony, every player donned their club colours for a separate photograph. There was Mattock Rangers, Hunterstown Rovers, St Mary’s, Sean McDermott’s, Westerns, Glyde Rangers, John Mitchel’s and Stabannon Parnells attire on show. All of these clubs are clearly doing good work at underage considering they – either by themselves or through contributing strongly to combinations – are contending towards the top bracket of underage club football at the relevant age groups.
And so Ardee CS was an open goal for Louth to focus resources. And they have, for both Gilsenan and Finnegan – natives of Monaghan – spoke highly of the external support that’s been received over the last two years. Devlin – who Harte claims to be the best trainer in Ireland – has even been taken in for a session or two.
The victories, particularly those on the inter-county stage, would indicate tangible progress and the subjection of young players to a higher standard of football can only but improve them.
Both Sloan, Devlin and Louth GAA’s development officer Brian Cafferty were in De La Salle College some weeks back for a discussion about how to bring the Castleblayney Road school in line with Ardee CS. Meanwhile, John Moylan, the successor to Colin Kelly at the helm of the development squads, is vice-principal in Colaiste Rís which should bode well for the development of a greater standard of Gaelic games there too.
Paul Gallagher and Darren McMahon have worked – and are working – very hard within St Mary’s College (Marist) in this regard, while Bush Post Primary are in the midst of their most successful spell ever.
St Mary’s DS in Drogheda took U16 and U18 glory, benefitting from the huge amount of work that’s gone into Meath coaching and games, particularly in St Colmcille’s, while St Joseph’s CBS are always keen competitors for honours across the grades, with St Fechin’s and Newtown Blues specific contributors here. Indeed, if Louth are to look to develop one school in the south over the others, ‘Joey’s’ would appear to be the most sensible.
Work done, lots more to do, but there are positive vibes, nonetheless.