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24th Nov 2018

Dr Crokes have a simple way to produce good footballers but not enough clubs do it

Why can't all clubs be like this?

Darragh Culhane

Sometimes we lose sight of things.

Playing sport, it’s all about winning.

Yes, taking part is great and that is why we all do it but nobody wants to lose; there is no enjoyment in it.

It is instilled in us from a young age – that desire to win and get your hands on as many medals and trophies as possible.

In underage sport, though, it shouldn’t be about that. At least not until kids playing GAA get a little bit older. What should be happening is emphasis on players fully developing their skills at underage.

However, that doesn’t happen. Managers want to win even at that level and the biggest and strongest players tend to get the starting positions as, at that age, your best chances of winning come about that way.

Dr Crokes don’t follow the pack, their underage set up is all about producing players with the skill-set to compete. That is a huge part of the reason they are current All-Ireland champions and have won six Kerry Senior Football Championships since 2010.

Johnny Buckley told us all about it on The GAA Hour .

“What you have is you have a great set up underage with a lot of past players and a lot of guys that maybe weren’t played themselves so there is a great mix but there is huge emphasis on playing football,” the Kerry star told Conan Doherty.

“I wouldn’t call it a style but it’s very much just focusing on the basic skills of the game making sure everyone can kick with both feet.

“I suppose it’s allowing the skills of the game to shine through and whatever way you do play underage you’re not always picking the biggest, strongest fellas underage and you’re picking the little corner forward as well that has the bit of style and bit of skill that you’d hope in years to come that he’d be able to bring into senior level.

“There’s a lot of work being done behind the scenes in fairness to them, they’re a great team. It’s very well organised and it’s great to go down to underage matches and see the work coming through as well.”

Instead of looking at the short-term, underage coaches need to look at the bigger picture and the long-term success that should come from the coaching of skills.

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