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trend How I've been literally 'blown over' by incredibly-impressive world of Under 7s and Under 10s girls’ GAA

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Daragh's girls have got the GAA bug

Daragh's girls have got the GAA bug

Daragh's girls have got the GAA bug

As winds whirled around the impressive floodlit GAA club grounds, blowing cones and bibs and balls in all directions, I found myself standing on the sidelines wondering if grassroots football was my family’s thing.

I also couldn’t stop asking myself why I didn’t wear more layers as I continually concocted a get-out plan to have ready just in case any of the coaches saw me standing there and asked me for help. My banker was going to be that I wasn’t Garda vetted.

This was my first foray into the incredibly- impressive world of Under 7s and Under 10s girls’ club GAA. It took two attempts and a rain-soaked Cúl Camp last August to convince my two princesses to join their friends at one of the local clubs.

Chloe (10) can contort and spring into positions that are sore to look at, thanks to her regular gymnastics. And Mia (7) could walk out on any stage in the country and have the audience in the palm of her hand for hours. But team sports just haven’t been their thing…until now, it seems.

To be fair, they might not make it past this season and we won’t force it on them but if a freezing cold Wednesday night in November in a Level 5 lockdown can’t put them off maybe I haven’t been giving them enough credit.

As the bitter temperatures proved too much for me I retired to the car and started working on the ‘It’s not you, it’s us’ WhatsApp message I predicted I would have to send later this week ahead of training as my two begged me to stay at home. I was so wrong.

As the hour-long session closed my two daughters bounded towards me with the kind of smiles I hadn’t seen on their faces for a while. And they weren’t alone either. There were 70 girls alone in the Under 7s section. All working and playing in small pods supervised by coaches. Just think about those numbers for a moment.

The bumper-to-bumper tailback getting out of the car park is testament to what this club has achieved in the community. And the meandering queue of cars going in the opposite direction with the next batch of kids was equally as impressive.

In the car on the way home they did their best to articulate the different drills and begged me if they could do camogie too. They laughed about their failures and successes and joked about how they had to take their hats off because they were so sweaty from all the exercise.

They even asked me if we could practice some of the drills at home and I won’t lie to you — my heart melted a little. I never wanted a boy but seeing some of the other dads in the neighbourhood playing football with their sons over the past few years made me wonder if I’d ever get that. Especially after our first attempt to get the girls into GAA failed so miserably three years ago.

But now they are hooked by the sport like their daddy. Although they are tougher than me because my love affair with the sport stops at sitting in the Cusack stand on match days (remember when we could go to games?) shouting on the Boys in Blue.

Now, top of my new to-do list is to get Garda vetted so that I can at least be part of the community too. My girls may not be ready to give up on their gymnastics and drama, and we wouldn’t want them to, but they now have a team sport on their list of hobbies and long may it last; especially a team sport with such an important role in Irish history and that has such a strong sense of community.


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