Collaborative approach serving Galway well
By Cian OConnell
Out west the Galway Coaching and Games department and senior football team are collaborating with a series of workshops.
The next event, which will focus on the art of goalkeeping, will be held this month. With the aid of senior players, two successful sessions have been staged.
Early in the year John Divilly, a highly regarded figure in Pdraic Joyces backroom team, and Galway GAA Coaching and Games Manager Dennis Carr put together an offering to support coaches. Carr is happy with the response to the two previous sessions, one focused on offensive play and the other on defensive play.
The first workshop we had in September, Ger Lyons Dublin and Divo John Divilly lead the session, the two lads would have worked closely together through their time with UCD Sigerson team's and we had our senior players Robbie Finnerty and Dessie Conneely, assisting the lads on the pitch.
The second workshop in October was on defence, Colm Nally led the session and was assisted by Galway senior players John Daly and Galway captain Sen Kelly, who also works as a games promotion officer Sean Kelly, demonstrated transitions from defence to attack.
The feedback from the workshops have been really positive and we had coaches from almost every club in Galway in attendance. The only unfortunate thing was the workshops all sold out in a couple of days when they were first advertised, but it's a positive sign when there is a huge demand for this.
So what happens on the day? The sessions comprised of a short presentation inside outlining the coaching principles of the session and how the session would run with the majority of time spent on the pitch with one of our Galway U16 squad's being used for demos with plenty of time for participants to ask questions about different aspects of the session, Carr replies.
The Atlantic Technological University Galway is sponsoring a number of Post Primary Gaelic Football competitions in the west. Pictured are Galway captain Sen Kelly, ATU Galway Gaelic Games development officer Damian Curley, Orla Flynn, ATU President, Molly Dunne, ATU sports development officer, and Dennis Carr, Galway GAA coaching & games manager.
Our third one is coming up Saturday week with Galway goalkeeping coach Pat Comer leading this workshop titled 'The Art of Goalkeeping'. Again, senior goalies Conor Gleeson and James Egan will assist on the goalkeeping side with Footballer of the Year nominee Cillian McDaid present to give his advice from an outfield players perspective on kickouts, etc.
More workshops are planned for the New Year and these will complement our very successful formal coach education programme in Galway GAA with the highly regarded new 'Introduction To Gaelic Games' being rolled out this coming Saturday in Loughgeorge with Award 1 courses in hurling and football having just finished this week.
Having a full range of skills is critical according to Galway captain Sen Kelly. It is very important, the way Gaelic Football has gone it is attack and defence sometimes together as a unit, Kelly says. Other times you can keep players up, but you have to be able to do it all.
Even as a defender you want to go attacking too, you can bring your man with you, tire him out maybe. It is just so important that these workshops can bring something back for coaches. Hopefully they can push on the players at a younger age.
Kelly recalls starting out as a youngster in the Galway academy system. It is very important to learn new skills, I started when I was four foot something tall when I was 12 or 13 starting with Galway, he laughs.
I was playing corner forward, light, I didn't really get a growth spurt until I hit about 17.
"So I had to learn a couple of more jinks, practising left and right solos, left and right kick passing. I was more of a creative player then.
Another Galway GAA Coaching & Games workshop is planned for this month.
I hit a growth spurt, pushing on into minor I started playing wing back. When I was brought into the senior team I played everywhere in my first couple of years, I was wing forward, wing back, and into full back recently.
I enjoy it, you will play anywhere for Galway when you get the chance. That chance to improve my skills when I was younger helped that. The management could see that I would play anywhere, it is that important to have each and every skill.
Kelly was an able basketball and soccer player as a teenager. You can transfer skills from other sports, he adds. Even in basketball you have terms crossing over. Boxing out, stutter steps, little things for defensive work, for kick outs, getting the right body position for breaks - box out it is called.
It is something you do in basketball automatically from when you're six years old. I played until I was 18 or 19, I played soccer until I was 19 or 20. The same in soccer, showing a player to his weaker foot, it is the same thing in football too.
Obviously the better players now can use both feet, it is something you have to adapt, learn, and adjust to, but the other sports are important.
Appointed Galway captain by Pdraic Joyce, Kelly has enjoyed many productive moments in 2020. Hugely relevant in Galways All-Ireland SFC bid, Kelly also won Sigerson honours with NUIG before starring for Maigh Cuilinn, who secured a second county title in three years Corribside.
In 2020 there was no AIB Connacht Club Championship so Kelly is excited about Sundays encounter against Westport at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park. It is something we are really looking forward to now, it is going to be a tough battle with Westport, he says.
Sen Kelly won a second Galway SFC title in three years with Maigh Cuilinn last month.
Two years ago with Covid we won the county final, and that was it. So it was a bit disappointing then. It is something we wanted to get that chance to do it again. My first year with Maigh Cuilinn in the intermediate we lost in the Connacht final.
It is disappointing looking back on - it is something that we could have won. A lot of lads have a good bit of experience, they won an intermediate All-Ireland.
They also had the other run with the intermediates so we have a lot of experience in the team. It is something we can pull off, we can ask them questions about it, and hopefully we can get over the line the next day.
Under Don Connellans shrewd stewardship Maigh Cuilinn have been a consistent outfit in a competitive Galway championship. Lads that have been around the club for years now are driving it on, Kelly says. You have Marc Lydon, Conor Bohan, and David Wynne - these lads are driving on the club.