Here at St. Mary's Boys' National School Maynooth, we are delighted to have close links with Maynooth GAA club. Many of our pupils represent the club proudly on the football and hurling pitches of Kildare every weekend. We are very grateful to the club for the continued use of their excellent facilities. There is always a pitch available to us for both training and matches. The club mentors take a real interest in the progress of our school teams and lots of knowledge is shared between club coaches and the teachers in our school. This positive relationship is vital to the progress of both our competitive school teams and in the various coaching initiatives that have started in the school in the past number of years.
Central to this are the weekly coaching sessions that are organised in the school by the club's excellent Games Promotion Officer, Martin Fitzgerald. Martin and his team visit the school once a week to promote Gaelic Games. Pupils of all ages are exposed to fun based games and exercises. The pupils love these sessions and their skill and fitness levels are improving by the week. Martin has also helped out with school team training sessions and attends many school matches.
Every Friday afternoon, a group of dedicated pupils from fifth and sixth classes take part in athletics training in the college grounds. Karen O'Hanlon kindly gives her time to train the boys. She is a fantastc runner who coaches at the locs St. Coca's Athletic Club. The boys are put through their paces with intervals and various running drills. We have had great successes in the annual cross country event, as well as a number of smaller events.
We are very lucky to have parents like Karen who are willing to share their passion for sport. We are also delighted to promote the great soprt of running in our school.
The senior Olympic Handball teams train every Tuesday during lunchtime in our school hall in preparation for a local tournament. We entered two sixth class teams this year. The tournament takes place annually in Confey GAA as the hall has the correct markings for the game. The Irish Olympic Handball Association provide the referees and some schools travel from as far as Kildare town to play!
The teams gain experience on the full size court and put skills they learn during training into practice. They learn to follow the referees hand signals correctly and the importance of pace. They discuss strategy in between matches, gaining an understanding of feints and passes. The team learn to work together to move the play forward using direct passing over dribbling. As they play they display great skill on the court. They will undoubtedly be a strong team when competing in years to come.
The sixth class team are confident in their ability and display advanced skills for their age group. They pass the ball accurately using a variety of methods and maintained possession. They work defence strategies and lead attacks with great pace. They learn how to lead the goalkeeper in one direction and shoot in the other. They work the ball to the centre of the opponent's semi-circle goal line and used a variety of shooting skills. They even show off some jump shot skills!
Well done to all of the boys who committed to the training and were enthusiastic during all sessions. Past pupils play internationally for Ireland! We hope the boys will continue to develop their skill and join the secondary school team in Maynooth and progress to playing for Ireland someday!