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  • Northside East

Local GAA club’s Acorns section experiences significant growth

Wednesday, 11th March, 2020 12:23pm
Local GAA club’s Acorns section experiences significant growth

Acorns team members Tadgh Donegan and Cassie Curtis. PHOTO DARREN KINSELLA

Local GAA club’s Acorns section experiences significant growth

Acorns team members Tadgh Donegan and Cassie Curtis. PHOTO DARREN KINSELLA

A NORTHSIDE GAA club is enjoying big success after relaunching its juvenile section. 

Innisfails GAA Club in Balgriffin, one of the oldest clubs in the country, started ‘Acorns’, with just five children.

However, it has grown exponentially, without the assistance of a Games Promotions Officer or school connection, and is now nurturing three teams and a nursery group

Tony Greenhalgh, vice chairman of Innisfails, said the success of the rejuvenation is down to dedication, passion and hard work from the club’s adult members. 

“We didn’t have a juvenile section for 10 years so we were very adult focused,” says Greenhalgh. “We knew that with an aging membership, the club could only go so far. The group who started the ‘Acorns’ grew up with this club and know what a club can be. GAA doesn’t just mean sport: it means belonging, socialising and support. 

“With all the new communities developing in the area, we really wanted to merge old members with new communities, taking a new approach to the continuation of the club.”

Since 2017, the Acorns have grown from just five children to over 70, and with many different nationalities involved, the future has never been brighter.  

Stefan Pelgen, from Germany, joined the club with his son, Max.  

“Max was such a quiet, shy little boy when we joined and I was a German Dad in Dublin,” says Pelgen. 

“Now Max is so outgoing and confident. We have both made loads of friends and I have even become a coach.” 

Trainings, matches and accompanying activities are all free. There is an exceptionally high coach-to-child ratio and there are complimentary refreshments provided for everyone on Saturdays thus encouraging the club’s social side. 

The club’s PRO, Nicola Foxe, says: “I didn’t grow up in a GAA community and the thoughts of joining one of the bigger clubs slightly intimidated me. 

“But when I heard about Innisfails, its history and rejuvenation, I thought that sounded great: a historical club that my children could grow with. “My daughter, Nina, loves being part of a team and my three-year-old, Elise, is always welcome and loves being part of the club even if she is too little to train yet. It’s just brilliant to be part of it.”

Innisfail’s Acorns have just celebrated their third year since rejuvenation and new members are always welcome. 

Juvenile training take place every Saturday at 9.45am while the club also has other societies and all-weather facilities available for new members, including a pitch and putt course, pool and darts teams, indoor bowls, karate. 

“Innisfails was and is a community club with something for everyone and with more in the pipeline,” adds Greenhalgh.

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