DUAL PLAYERS DOUBLE WINNERS 2021

Piltown Under-12 girls GAA players had the historic distinction in 2021 of winning both the Ladies Football and Camogie “A” county Championship titles in Kilkenny.  A fantastic achievement for the players and the team managements.  The achievement made many people very proud and very happy, parents, grandparents, siblings, club officers and coaches.  I was especially happy and proud as two of the key team management were my daughters, Lisa (Ladies Football) and Jennifer (Camogie). I admire the dedication and enthusiasm they brought to it and along with the other members of the management, the great way they had with dealing with the players.  I loved, their attention to detail and watching and listening their planning and preparation for matches. The time off the pitch in preparatory mode, was just as much as the time on the pitch.  Their appreciation of being dual players themselves was evident in games approach.  At times I may have been a sounding board, which I enjoyed, but the achievement was all theirs along with their fellow management team members of Sandra Quinn, Pauline Coady and Kevin Barry and of course the players of both teams. Extra credit to Sandra who was involved with both teams.

Under-12 is young and not intended to be competitive, although tell that to any of the players and some of the parents.  However, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that both management teams used every opportunity to develop the girls as players and good people, keep them challenged, ensure enjoyment and provided plenty of game time for every single player throughout the competitions.  This was the managements greatest achievement, more so than winning the competitions.

For these girls, in this year, they have achieved the ultimate. They could win no more.  This is a feat that they can only ever equal. Even if they go on to win All-Ireland Senior Club titles in a single year. even though it will feel much bigger, the measurement will be the same. The reality is, although they have the potential of winning huge in Camogie outside the county, unfortunately, the same in football is unlikely due to the status of football in Kilkenny. However, every achievement in football will take on greater significance in the whole scheme of things as the challenge will be that much greater, especially outside the county. 

The challenge to maintain that momentum, will grow exponentially year on year.  There will be so many hurdles and distractions; Academic and career ambitions and choices, relationships and health are standard obstacles as people develop in sport.  Within the sport, continued enjoyment, varying management and coaching philosophies, opponent development, attitude and involvement in other sports and activities and the challenges of elite (inter-county) sport will all serve to make the journey of attaining the maximum results annually, near impossible.  To have any hope of maintaining the potential shown, it will take a lot of joined up thinking and planning by all parties involved now and in the future. Both Camogie and Ladies Football working together with coaches and administrators and parents over the immediate future years.  Parents, did not achieve what their daughters achieved and in general will have no concept of what is required to continue that in the future with a view to those days that will feel even bigger than those enjoyed in 2021. In fact, most coaches will not know either as this is a first for Piltown. Slaughtneil in Derry comes to mind as being one of the few who might have an insight. Time planning how to face the challenges may be just as productive from a development point of view as time spent working in gyms and progressing the skills.

As for the matches, both finals bore testament to the character and resolve of the players and of course their managements.  Wonderful foundation to have for the challenges that lie ahead. Although the football team had been tested along the way, they could not have foreseen the huge test from Thomastown in the final.  First of all, the challenge of going to the lion’s den had to be overcome.  Then a tit for tat battle took place on the pitch.  Thomastown led by a point coming down the home straight but Piltown had the courage to equalise and bring proceedings to extra time.  Within a minute of the start of extra time, Thomastown nudged ahead with a point.  Then came a tsunami finish from Piltown.  Although the girls had played so many games, day after day, it stood to them as they had the stamina built to combine with the confidence to get over the line by a four-point winning margin.  The Camogie team had a different route to the final. To be fair they weren’t really put to the sword.  They had cruised through.  Cruising is alright until something goes wrong, such as an early injury to a key player.  It was a slight rattle, but the ship balanced again, and Piltown looked like they were in control against a battling John Lockes. Then another iceberg was hit when a penalty was given just before half time. It unnerved the team and when two more goals followed just after the break, the Camogie team was in uncharted territory. However, they just need time to compose themselves and a small break to go their way.  It eventually did and again the girls’ stamina and character shone through as they cruised yet again in the final quarter for a 11-point victory.  Again, similar to the football, the amount of games played by the players was not an obstacle to success. Maybe there is something in the World Health Organisation recommendation for physical activity in children and adolescents aged 5-17 years.

  • Should do at least an average of 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, mostly aerobic, physical activity, across the week.
  • Should incorporate vigorous-intensity aerobic activities, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 days a week.
  • Should limit the amount of time spent being sedentary, particularly the amount of recreational screen time.

We listen to them (WHO) for COVID-19 instruction, so why not when it comes to physical activity. Some people say or think children and/or adolescents do “too much”. The reality is that “too much” is a lot and very few reach it.  

Whatever, happens, I hope the players are allowed build on the great foundation and go on to be great role models like those who built the foundation.

BACK TO THE FUTURE MEMORIES

In 1994, Macra Na Feirme celebrated 50 years as an organisation. At that time, I was the County Kilkenny Anniversary committee Chairperson having been the PRO for the previous two years.  A number of events took place to commemorate the occasion including a gala dinner, a tree planting ceremony in Mooncoin Vocational School, the site of the first branch and a commemorative book, for which I was editor and which is available on this website HERE.  Another novel idea was a film/documentary called “Kilkenny Macra Na Feirme Back To The Future”.   This is now available on my YouTube Channel and can be accessed HERE through this website.

This was my first venture into filmmaking. Armed with a flexible plan and a great cameraman in the form of Pat Farrell, a member of the Ballyragget Macra branch with additional footage provided by Simon Kennedy of the Glenmore branch, we spent several months collecting footage, interviewing, scripting and editing. Basically, having fun.  The end result was 96 minutes of history, events, fun and sport which was released on VHS tape with the artwork provided by Teresa Blanchfield of the Freshford branch.  A time capsule of Macra activity in Kilkenny in 1994. It was intended as a Macra promotional video but with the benefit of hindsight, I could have left a lot more footage on the cutting room floor, but there are so many memories for so many in the historic documentary, it was difficult to cut, because we knew the timeless history and memories we were capturing would be priceless as the years go by.  Unforgettable memories that needed to be remembered.

I recall the final editing session at Pat Farrell’s house in Lisdowney. A full Saturday of enjoyable editing, camaraderie and making sure the final project came together while Pat’s wonderful mother, (RIP), ensured we were well fed and looked after with her incredible hospitality and no little patience. Our launch and premiere showing deadline of the 5th November 1994 at the Newpark Hotel was fast approaching.  I’ll not forget it as I was involved in a not too serious car crash on the way home from work that evening.  Thankfully, everything else went to plan.

Anyway, over the years I have made a number of DVD’s and even transferred the film from VHS to DVD.  Lately, the next generation of Norris’ have been getting on to me about preserving these DVD’s in the “cloud”. Well with yet another lockdown due to COVID-19 in progress and time needing to be occupied, here is the first one.  Hopefully, those who were in it will enjoy the nostalgia or maybe their children might see them in a different and more impressed light.  There is little in the difference of what entertains most young people after just over quarter of a century.

I joined Piltown Macra Na Feirme in 1987.  Initially just to play indoor soccer in Kilbarry, Waterford on a Saturday night. However, I quickly realised the incredible opportunities Macra had to offer despite being viewed as a farmer’s organisation. Although, I came from a farming background, I certainly did not see myself as a farmer. I mean, I was working in Dublin as a Business Analyst coming home at the weekends to play sport locally.  Macra offered, so much. Sport was the obvious attraction for me but through Macra, I got to improve my Public Speaking, winning a Gold award nationally. I was compere at national level in the final of the Make & Model competition, I was on the runner-up Kilkenny team in the All-Ireland quiz final, formerly known as Cross Country Quiz when broadcast on RTE.  I won the comedy section of talent competitions in Kilkenny. No joke! The biggest opportunity came in the drama competition.  I got the amazing opportunity to write one-act plays which were performed by the Piltown branch and the Kilmacow branch.  It started an outlet for my love of writing and telling stories. The seed of the material available on this website. Sheila won several Best Actress awards while I won both Best Director and Best Actor awards. However, I was always disappointed the plays themselves never managed to get over the line despite a few near misses. It goes back to the elation of a team winning. In this case a team of cast and production crew, far exceeds the elation of individual recognition, albeit it a massive honour.

Macra gave tremendous opportunities to travel, the highlight for me was a group trip to Orlando, Florida. However, the festival weekends were incredible craic. Miss Macra, Miss Blue Jeans, Batchelor of the Year and of course the national convention weekend featuring the final of the Make & Model final.  This is not to mention, the regular nights out at “discos” with a group of friends. My sports career did take a hit though.  Although I am not a drinker, often not getting home until the early hours just before daybreak or a weekend with little sleep at all, can devastate the body. Then having to help with jobs early in the morning at home on the farm including milking cows. Those 11am soccer matches on a Sunday morning were tough going at times. I literally fell asleep standing on my feet momentarily one morning while waiting for a throw-in to be taken and an injured player be treated.  Yes, believe me, it can happen. 

Above all, friendship was the biggest thing Macra had to offer.  Over 20 of Piltown members in the late 80’s, early 90’s ended up getting married to another member or a member from another club.  It was similar in many other Macra branches. This included myself and Sheila. We did not meet at Macra, but we got to know each other really well through the enjoyment of our shared interests.  Macra is not a dating agency. It is an organisation that gives the opportunity to share varied interests with like-minded people. This is the root of any friendship or relationship.  In these challenging times, it is worth remembering that and the value of friendship.  Twenty-seven years since the launch of the video, those friendships still exist.   Despite being a sports fanatic, especially GAA, some of my best friends are not sports fans and more are.   

I hope that people who were involved in Kilkenny Macra back in 1994, take the time to reminisce and remember the value of friendship Macra gave you. Take the opportunity to pass on that legacy, which although the interests may have moved on and modernised, the values are still the same. Please pass the word that “Kilkenny Macra Na Feirme Back To The Future” is now available online for all to enjoy. Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. It’s free and costs just the click of a button and follow me on other social media options. 

FIRST DECADE

I am delighted to announce the completion and publication on this website of my third history/factual book, FIRST DECADE – PILTOWN LADIES GAELIC FOOTBALL. It is about the first decade of Piltown Ladies Gaelic Football Club (Established 2010) recording the club history in words, pictures and with a lot of interesting statistics.  It has been a labour of love and passion assembled during the COVID-19 lockdown but compiled over a period of ten years when I was and still am the club PRO.

Feel free to read, download, share. It is available online at the following link to read or download [Click Link]; FIRST DECADE – PILTOWN LADIES GAELIC FOOTBALL

If you enjoy it, there is no obligation but if you could possibly make a donation of any amount to Piltown Ladies Gaelic Football Club. Whatever you think, it would be much appreciated buy those in the club. The club will need funds when the games return to get back up and running with several fundraising options now gone and a lot of competition from other local organisations for limited funds.  You can donate through PayPal (Details Below). ALL proceeds will go directly to the club and will be used to fund the club for the foreseeable future.  Thanks in advance for your generosity.

With PayPal, you can send money or make a payment to anyone with an email address or mobile number.

From your computer, here’s how to send money:

  1. Click Send & Request at the top of the page.
  2. Enter the recipient’s name, PayPal username, email address (piltownlgfc@gmail.com) or mobile number and click Next.
  3. Enter the amount, choose the currency, add a note (if you wish) and click Continue.
  4. Select “Sending to a friend.”
  5. Select how you want to pay and click Next.
  6. Review the information and click Send Payment Now.

MY HEART BELONGS TO PILTOWN

This month’s blog is the story behind my song lyrics “My Heart Belongs to Piltown”, motivated by some recent traction on social media.  Coincidentally, the story crosses both my writing and sporting interests.

The idea came for a Piltown song came about in 2005. I had dabbled in song lyrics for a few years in conjunction with my brother-in-law; US based singer/songwriter, Enda Keegan. He put my words to music based on my mood direction. In fairness Enda indulged me and my madcap ideas. The truth is I am devoid of a musical note and skill. On the other hand Enda is a superb singer and musician. I consider myself a wordsmith but I’ll leave it to others to judge if the same adjective fits. In the nineties, I entered songs in the National Song Contest with the dream of one of them representing Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest.  At that stage it was difficult to even enter the National Song Contest. You needed a promoter. Mine ended up being former Senator and radio broadcaster, Paschal Mooney. The nearest success we had was reaching the final of the Glinsk Song Contest in 1997. A contest won by Eurovision winner Paul Harrington previously. My song “Let’s Just Kiss” was performed by Maria Merry of Fiddown and Dermot Keyes of Portlaw and Munster Express fame. Evan Grace was involved in the backing track. We didn’t win, but it was an interesting experience. What I enjoyed was being in a recording studio putting together the demos.  These were done in the Poppy Hill Recording Studio in Eadestown near Naas in County Kildare. There was a pop star buzz to the whole professional studio process.

My children were born between 1995 and 2000. In sport, I was still playing soccer for Piltown as well as five-a-side in Waterford, but by the mid noughties, the toll of over thirty years of playing sport had severely taken its toll on my body. My hips were well and truly worn, eventually leading to two total hip replacements, one in 2011 and one in 2012. The idea of playing, though still the ultimate, was becoming less practical. In late March 2003, I was visiting Jim Norris (A neighbour at the time on the Rathmore Road, Fiddown and who was chairman of the Rathmore Road Residents Group, A small group that worked tirelessly at the time to improve safety on the Piltown/Fiddown Bypass). His wife Jackie was involved with Piltown Camogie Club and she asked me would I get involved in coaching the young girls on a Sunday morning seeing as Jennifer was reaching that age.  (I had previously managed Piltown Junior Camogie team back in the late eighties for a year). As I said in previous blogs, coaching and team management was something I really loved.  I jumped at the opportunity and arrived the following Sunday morning at the Piltown GAA field.  Fate works in strange ways. In my enthusiasm I had arrived a week too early. While I was standing around the car park, I met Liam Ryan, now my neighbour in Jamestown. Liam asked would I give a hand with the boys while I was there who had started back. What else would you do? So began, almost accidentally a period of 10 years coaching Piltown boys in Hurling and Gaelic Football. In 2006, Jim Norris invited me to get involved in Kilkenny Hurling Development Squads as well. Over a dozen years later and I am still involved and have added Gaelic Football to my Kilkenny resume since as well as being the only Kilkenny person to be involved in Tony Forristal and Sonny Walsh All-Ireland winning management teams.  I am very grateful to Jim, Jackie and Liam for the opportunities that they sowed the seeds for, over the last decade and a half.

In those early years involved in Piltown Juvenile GAA, Enda, on his trips home from New York, would do a concert in the GAA Complex to raise funds for the Juvenile Club. It was at one of these concerts, and again it was Jim Norris, who asked us to put together a Piltown Song. It may have been a passing request, that Jim and Enda soon forgot about but I started to think, the seed was sown. Wouldn’t it be great if Piltown had a song that could be sung at all Piltown GAA events? An inclusive song, as far as is possible. Something like the “Rose of Mooncoin”, but this time, a Piltown song. A song that could be sung after Piltown has won a county championship in celebration or even an All-Ireland title. A song that would become synonymous with Piltown, about Piltown and for the people of Piltown.  I was dreaming and dreams have no limit is my motto. I pictured Piltown winning an All-Ireland club title, with me as the manager and the song being played over the Croke Park PA being a song that I wrote the lyrics for. Thus was born the lyrics of “My Heart Belongs to Piltown”, the dream and the ambition.

It was a number of years before Enda actually added the music and the voice, but I think he did a fantastic job. Social media reaction would appear to confirm. We published the song originally on the old Piltown GAA website in 2010 while I was the website Administrator. In the summer of 2014, I went around Piltown capturing footage on my camcorder of many of the well-known landmarks and edited it to make the video which was posted on Youtube as part of a website for Piltown Girls Gaelic Sports.  I wanted to sell the beauty and the amenities that Piltown had to offer to the wider world. What struck me most was when I was recording footage from both Owning Hill and Corbally Hill, the shots of the Suir Valley on a beautiful summer’s day; what a beautiful area we live in! Almost heavenly and probably under appreciated by many. I would recommend to everyone, on one of those rare glorious summers’ days, to head to some of those vantage points, look, listen and feel.  Your worries will soak away.

When my role as Administrator of Piltown GAA website was ended prematurely, the marketing also ended.  However, when a door shuts, another always opens for those who seek it… “My Heart Belongs To Piltown”. It still does. Part of the dream is there, the other part is the ambition to lead the Piltown GAA teams to those great days. The ambition is there, the comprehensive plan is there, the supports are ready and waiting for the call to put together the best team of people possible to deliver the ambitious dream in a professional and inclusive manner because no one person can deliver it. To facilitate the fantastic players to be the best they can possibly be and enjoy the journey, because the journey is wonderful. The management team’s main qualification will be that their heart belongs to Piltown and their passion is Piltown, 24/7/365, not just the GAA but all of Piltown. Unfortunately, it looks like there is a long queue before I and my team of people get a shot having submitted my name for the team management roles over the last number of years and yet to get an interview or even an acknowledgement, but the ambition never fades. We are ready to deliver when the call comes and the Players want it.

And having said all that, the dream for the song although born in the GAA, should not just be a GAA song. Jim Norris came up with the idea and sowed the seeds. Enda Keegan delivered the music. I delivered the words, the direction and the dream is a work in progress but the Song should belong to all in Piltown, the parish, the other sports clubs and organisations, any club or any individual whose heart truly belongs to Piltown.

Click Here to check out my Song Lyrics, Music and Videos

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