independent

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Martin's setting a high standard for the rest to follow

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

It goes without saying how important G.A.A. clubs are to communities, both home and abroad.

In the G.A.A's own manual for clubs, the Association states that: 'The G.A.A. club is the bedrock of every Irish community and provides an organised structure from which great community spirit is generated.'

From some sporting bodies a line like that might be seen as an inflated sense of their own importance, but for virtually the entire island of Ireland, and a growing number of places around the globe, the G.A.A. is really the heart of the community.

A club which knows that better than most must be St. Martin's, a small rural parish outfit in south Wexford, who have dominated the hurling scene in the Model county through 2017.

The love of all things G.A.A. is borne out by this small club which has blossomed through a well-organised under-age structure to become one of the leading clubs, not just in Wexford but throughout the country.

The G.A.A. grounds in Piercestown is an extension of family and of friends who have played together since the Nickey Rackard League days.

And this makes it so much easier for all the players to feel at home, being coached and trained by their very own, since the management set-up is an extension of former players who have continued to contribute to the club despite their own playing days being long over.

The one thing the club has in common is that all the players grew up together which makes for a tightly-knit community that has extended through to the club, and it's this closeness that has translated into success. It's hard to beat success with lads you grew up and live with, which makes it that more extra special.

For as long as one can remember it would be difficult to match the success of St. Martin's through 2017, and it's by no means over. This is a special time for the club, since success has propelled it onto the national stage, a prime example of what can be achieved through a successful under-age structure.

It's something that's only achieved through professional coaching and hard work, with all the structures in place, but more importantly with the teams being managed and coached by people who know what it takes to succeed, and can pass on those skills to the young stars emerging.

It's the bedrock of this club and success has followed. Take 2017 as the prime example - they are county Senior hurling champions, Premier Under-21 hurling champions and Junior 'A' hurling champions, while last Saturday afternoon they annexed the Premier Minor hurling title. All of this to go alongside the Junior football title, while they finished runners-up in both Senior football and Premier Minor football, while they still have the Premier Under-21 football championship to contest.

Considering the community spirit that exists within the club, it's not surprising that they also won the county Senior camogie title for a first time, while also winning an Intermediate ladies' football championship.

Their season is still alive as on Sunday they travel to Parnell Park to take on reigning provincial and All-Ireland Club champions, Cuala, while the ladies have also the small matter of a Leinster Club championship final against Thomastown in Carlow at the same time.

For as long as I can remember St. Martin's has always been a thriving club, and years of under-age coaching and development has seen them emerge as the leading club in the county, which is no mean achievement. In the current climate, that attitude and togetherness in a club is vital to success on and off the pitch.

When a club in any sport wants to go in the right direction, pulling the one way, it makes everything an awful lot easier. Once members are willing to give up their time, and others are willing to recognise it, it makes the job so much simpler.

If people go on solo runs, or pull rank, things can go pear-shaped, but if a club has the one purpose and the same vision, it makes everything, from raising money to winning matches, easier.

The clear love of the club is so important. This is all too prevalent within the St. Martin's structures and they are a prime example for all clubs to follow.

Wexford People

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