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A Tribute to our Boys Gaelic Football Teams!

Last year, our Senior Boys team made it all the way to the final at Croke Park in the Corn ó Donnchú Cup. It was a brilliant achievement as we all know how difficult it is to get there! This year, we lost a lot of our outstanding Sixth Class players from that team and it was very much a rebuilding process. It was a very young team with 5 Fourth Class boys making it on to the panel. After losing their first group match against Clonburris, the boys bounced back in style by winning their next two matches vs St. Peter's and St. Mary's before sadly bowing out at the quarter final stage against Scoil Grainne. There may not have been Croke Park glory this year but we have to register our compliments for this superb group of young players. They have been so committed to training and the team spirit has been fantastic! We were a very small team this year but what the boys lacked in size, they more than made up for in skill and brilliant teamwork! In fact, they were the most enjoyable Senior team to watch that I have seen in Sruleen for a long time! They worked so hard for each other and many great scores have resulted from passing moves that started from the last line of defence. The circumstances in which they lost their quarter-final were far from ideal. We had to play on what was essentially a tiny 7 a side Astro pitch which made it impossible for our smaller, younger lads to move the ball around and express themselves - basically all the training and passing drills that the boys had done since the start of the school year went out the window which was the most disappointing part about the experience. However, we want to take nothing away from the Scoil Grainne boys themselves who were a fantastic group of lads and were very gracious winners. Given how much effort our boys put into improving themselves for the GAA season this year, I think it is only right that each and every one of them deserves a special mention in this tribute!

From the start of the year, Luca was always who we had in mind to be the first choice goalkeeper and we were delighted when Luca expressed that he would be eager to take on that responsibility in the first training session. He made a few very important saves for us in last year's campaign but this year he was a much more imposing figure in between the sticks. He commanded the square really well and was alert and quick to come out and claim short balls. His catching has been superb and he never wastes any time getting his clearance up the field. Luca is certainly not afraid of getting his body in the way of a powerful shot either and he coped admirably when his goal was getting bombarded in that difficult quarter-final! Above all, Luca just has a brilliant attitude. He is very respectful and encouraging to his teammates and he should be really proud of how he has represented the school in gaelic football over the past two years!

As I have already stated, we had a very young and small team this year and Robert added some badly needed height, strength and aggression to our backline! But Robert has also really impressed us with his skill level. He launched some great kick passes into the forward line and was very comfortable carrying the ball out of defence on a solo run. To say Robert is tough is a big understatement! He has no qualms about putting his body on the line in order to make a last ditch block or tackle. He is a passionate player who will always give you 100%. Robert loves his sport - he will always put himself forward for any sport that's going on here at Sruleen and I'm sure he is already looking forward to getting back into battle mode when soccer season comes around in the next term!

And now to our leader at full back, Luke! What a brilliant servant he has been to Sruleen over the past few years! Luke has been playing GAA for Towers for many years now and it certainly shows on the football field. Luke is a quiet boy but he does all his talking on the pitch through his outstanding performances. His high catching has been immense and he has commanded the square with such great authority for the past two years. Luke is such a humble boy but he always gives it everything out there on the football pitch. And he has plenty of skill too...he is a remarkably accurate kick-passer and his reading of the game is superb. Above all, Luke leads by example by being so respectful of and encouraging to his teammates. I can safely say that he is our best ever full back for the boys team (and we have had some great ones) and I hope that he will be competing in the green and white of Round Towers for many years to come!

And now to the youngest boy on the Senior Panel, Jack Sullivan! Jack is just a natural at this game. He is an absolute flyer! He may be small but he zips around the field attacking the ball with no fear and jumping up and winning high balls ahead of lads twice his size! His high catching can be breathtaking at times, he is as fit as a fiddle, he can kick with both feet and his tremendous balance and athleticism is what allows him to be able race away from bigger, stronger boys! He is also a fighter who always keeps trying his best regardless of the scoreboard. Jack's enthusiasm is infectious and I couldn't be happier that he has recently joined Towers. I'm sure the coaches at Towers are even more delighted with that decision too!

If you were to watch Kyle Rooney play for the first time this year in Sruleen, you'd probably assume that he had been playing gaelic football for years. His skill level is already so high and he plays with an intelligence that is way beyond his years. His catching is so reliable, his kick-passing so accurate and his reading of the game so sharp. He can play in any position too. He can do a man-marking job in defence but in attack, he is one of our most accurate players! So it is amazing that he is this good and doesn't play GAA for a club. However, Kyle is very ambitious and has worked hard on his GAA skills in his own time and that's why he is as accomplished as he is right now. Above all, Kyle's competitive spirit is second to none and he will be an absolutely crucial player for us over the next two years!

Lee was our centre back this year and he most certainly is in the conversation for the 'Player of the Year'. I can't overstate how impressed I've been by Lee! He has mopped up so much ball at centre back this year. He is so light on his feet and can do a beautiful side step to manufacture space for himself. He has leapt up so many times to catch a high ball and he is always one step ahead of the opposition as he is so quick to lay off the pass before he can get tackled. He's a 'player's player' really! Lee is as natural a talent as you're going to find. He just loves his Gaelic football and hurling and I hear he is one of the best players down in Towers too! Luckily, for Sruleen he will be with us next year and I have no doubt he will be raring to go out there and give his best for Sruleen next year!

Fletcher is another one of our many exceptional talents from Fourth Class! He also doesn't play for a GAA club but his natural talent and determination is undeniable. Our chief marksman, Leon, has been especially impressed by him! Fletcher made the left half back position his own this year. He is very much an attacking half back who can catch a ball at speed, charge forward and sell dummies for fun! But in defence, he is a tenacious tackler and will never shy away from the rough stuff! Fletcher is a soccer star for St. Francis and he will shine for our school soccer team in time too but he is going to be a big, big player for our GAA team over the next two years!

Jake has had a superb campaign for the Senior team this year. He has mostly played in defence and he has been so reliable in the corner back position! He won a lot of important balls for us there and more importantly he always made sure to find a Sruleen player with his distribution! He had a brilliant performance against St. Mary's and it was great to see his confidence grow as a result. He is another one of our Towers stars and I know he usually plays in the forward line there but he is a very versatile player and regardless of the position he is playing in, you can rely on him to give his best. Above all, his attitude is second to none and I'm sure he will do his best to make sure all the new players to the Senior Panel next year are welcome!

What a sensational player Alex is! Any time you see a Fourth Class boy playing at midfield for a school's Senior Team, you know you're dealing with a special talent! Alex has a real swashbuckling style and he is the type of player you'd pay money to go see play! He can leap up and catch a high ball in a crowd and one of my favourite sights this year has been of Alex tearing at defences on his powerful, trade-mark solo runs! It's also great to see how he has developed his left foot this year and he is getting really close to becoming the complete Gaelic Footballer. Above all, Alex is a wholehearted player who will leave it all out there on the pitch every time he plays. He has the potential to be one of our greatest ever and we are very privileged to be able to call on his services for the next few years!

And what can I say about Leon? What a magnificent servant he has been for our school! Leon has been on the starting team ever since Fourth Class and is as classy a player as I have ever seen in this school. Without Leon and his crucial scores there would have been no trip to Croker last year. It was so pleasing to see him showcase his tremendous talent in Croker last year but this year he had to take on the responsibility of playing at midfield and unsurprisingly, he did so with great determination! He was the focal point of the whole team as so many of our attacks went through him but he always worked his socks off and was more than willing to help out in defence too. He's such a natural talent, - so skillful and clinical in front of goal - but above all, he has been a terrific leader on and off the pitch! Leon's passion is soccer and I have no doubt he will go on to play at a very high level but I hope that he realises the GAA will always be there for him if he misses it because any team would be extremely to lucky to have a player of his brilliance!

This time last year Dylan played his way onto the Senior team that reached the final at Croke Park despite having no GAA experience. He was corner back last year but this year he was arguably our most dangerous attacking threat! He has blistering pace but more impressively, incredible control while sprinting on the solo run from deep. He is extremely elusive as he jinks in and out of would be tackles. I should know because I tried marking him at training and failed miserably! Dylan has been so dedicated to our team this year and lead by example with his attitude at training. I know his main sport is soccer but he really has so much talent for GAA so I hope that one day he considers developing it further for Towers at some stage because he has a lot to offer this sport!

Last year, Nathan was one of only two Fourth Class boys to make the starting team! He was very much a battler last year but this year he has blossomed into such a classy footballer! His catching has improved so much but what sets him apart is his ball striking. There are very few players who are equally as accomplished kicking off their left foot as they are off their right foot and Nathan is one of those players! He has scored some beautiful goals and points for us this year but he has also unselfishly turned provider for other players when they have been in better positions. Nathan is so passionate about his gaelic football and hurling and very dedicated to improving his skills. I fully expect Nathan to be a massive leader for us next year and he will do whatever he can to help us go a few steps further in next year's competition!

Jack Costello is another boy who has GAA running deep in his blood and this was without doubt his best year playing for the school. He has made massive progress since last year and played with great confidence and determination in all our matches. He linked up play so well and was always making himself available for our defenders when they were launching attacks up the field. He also scored a great goal in the quarter-final when he bravely jumped up above the goalie and fisted the ball into the net! Jack is a great motivator and I can easily see him doing some coaching in the future but hopefully that's after plenty of years of wearing the green and white! We'll miss him next year but his brother Luke is another young Towers star and I'm sure he'll have his turn with the school team in the future!

Kyle Mulvey is a serious talent! He plays soccer at a high level with Shamrock Rovers but we were delighted that he opted to give the GAA a go this year! Kyle is one of those kids that would probably excel at any sport he tries his hand at but it's been particularly impressive how quickly he has took to Gaelic football. He is very competitive, fast, skillful on the ball and he plays with intent...he loves taking players on! There's no doubt Kyle will be looking forward to soccer season at school but I think he may have even caught a little bit of the GAA bug too - he was even asking for more GAA training the day after we got knocked out. I'm very excited about what Kyle can do for this team next year because I really believe that he will be one of the main men!

Ollie is a coach's dream! His work ethic is just exceptional! He never complains, always gives 100% and will accept whatever role he is given for the team. But he is also a really talented footballer! He has vision like no other and the technical skill to execute pin point passes from any position on the pitch! He is very accurate in front of goal but has no problem doing a job for you in defence either. He battled so hard in the quarter-final under difficult circumstances and produced so many brave blocks that you couldn't be anything other than extremely proud of him. We are so lucky to have a player like Ollie in this school and I would point to him as the perfect example of how to conduct oneself as a sportsman!

This was Jamie's first year playing GAA for the school senior team and I consider him to be a player with massive potential. First of all, his catching is excellent but he is a natural ball player. He is sharp, fast and always looks to give the pass to a teammate in a good position. He also reads the game very well and made countless interceptions for us from the half back line this year. Jamie is primarily a soccer player but he has been really keen to improve on his GAA skills this campaign and he has certainly shown us enough to suggest that he can make a major contribution to the Senior GAA team next year!

John is another one of our Fourth Class lads that made it onto the Senior Panel this year and he certainly had no qualms about mixing it with the older lads this year. John is a GAA man through and through! He is a hardy lad who most definitely makes his presence known on the football field but he also has the game to match his competitive spirit. He has superb close control on the ball and is more than capable of taking a score when the chance presents itself. John is very much a student of the game and I reckon he'd make a great manager some day but in the meantime he is loving competing on the football and hurling field with Towers and I'm sure he will be eager to make sure he is ready for action again when GAA season comes around this time next year!

Evan has always had great talent and indeed was on our starting team that made it to Croker last year but this year, his performances have been on a different level altogether. He has tremendous balance and is a master at manufacturing space for himself in tight spaces to get his shot off. His shooting has been top notch and he was definitely one of our go-to men for scores this year! He is also a great winner of primary possession and he has led the line of attack at full forward brilliantly all year! Again, we have to thank Evan for his total commitment to the team this year. Evan has great talent for this sport but I am sure he is even more excited to get back in action for the school when soccer season comes around!

Lorcan is the definition of a no nonsense defender! He is courageous and aggressive and will put his body on the line in order to prevent an opposing forward from getting a shot on goal! He has a safe pair of hands and is a great man to launch a monster clearance under pressure right up into the forward line. He relishes a good hard, battle and we definitely couldn't have asked any more from him effort wise! I'm delighted that Lorcan is playing down in Towers now and I hear he is doing great at the hurling too! One thing is for sure, I definitely wouldn't want to be marking him!

Zack (5th class) has been so committed to this team this year and in many ways he encapsulates the team spirit of these boys. Zack couldn't get enough training and was always looking to help out with setting up the goals. But Zack is a fine footballer too. He always gets stuck in, always makes himself available for a pass and is very unselfish when in possession himself. He has a great catch and above all, he is a fine striker of a ball. He is a great man to hit a fair shoulder too! Zack was disappointed our campaign ended earlier than we had hoped this year but I've no doubt it will make him even hungrier to go again next year!

We also had a really enthusiastic group of young players on the Go Games team this year. They had a great win against Clonburris, a tough defeat against Gaelscoil Clondalkin and a really narrow defeat against Gaelscoil na Camoige in what was a really entertaining encounter. Most of these boys are very young so they will not be receiving as comprehensive a write-up because there will be plenty to say about these great talents in the coming years but they still deserve a mention for their valuable contributions.

Cillian is a very musical boy and was a wonderful singer for our Music Club in the summer. But it was great to see him try out for the Boys Go Games team and he worked so hard to improve his skills. His handpassing has become very accurate and he always looks to make himself available for a pass. Hopefully, this experience inspires Cillian to play more GAA in future years!

Reilly is a dual star as he plays GAA for Towers and soccer for Kilnamanagh! Reilly is the ultimate goal poacher. He possesses an absolute rocket of a shot and is deadly accurate in front of goal. If you present Reilly with a chance, he will surely take it! He also has superb pick-ups and is very accomplished at catching the ball on his chest. Reilly loves his GAA and I hope that he will be eager to score more goals and points for Sruleen in future years!

Connor McDonell is a very strong boy for his age and he has performed superbly well for the Go Games team this year. He was without doubt one of our most tenacious tacklers in defence and no forward was able to get past Connor easily. He is a great man to make a block or get a hand in and hopefully, the experience of playing for the Go Games team this year makes him determined to keep practicing his skills.

Zack's (3rd class) skill level really impressed me this year for a boy who does not play for a GAA club. He has a superb first touch, his picks up are excellent and he strikes the ball with great conviction! He also had such a good attitude at training and he certainly doesn't shy away from the action on the pitch! I'm very much looking forward to seeing how Zack keeps developing over the next few years.

We actually don't have many boys in Third Class who play with Towers but Cameron is a Towers man through and through! And it shows! He is a very skillful little player with a particularly accurate right foot. His soloing technique is first class and above all, his behaviour and attitude at training has been exemplary! Cameron is certainly one to watch out for in future years!

Sean doesn't play GAA for a club but you wouldn't think it to look at him. He plays with an intelligence that would make you assume that he has been coached for years! I guess the game just comes naturally to Sean as he is very skilled and accurate off his left foot and he has great vision on the ball. Hopefully, Sean will consider joining Towers but I expect him to feature prominently for Sruleen in the future years either way.

Cayden has been rock solid in defence this year. I don't think any player has executed as many blocks as Cayden has but that just speaks to his bravery and determination on the pitch. Cayden is a strong lad and he protects the ball brilliantly when he is bursting out of defence. I definitely see Cayden being involved with the Senior Panel next year!

Alfie is a soccer star for Greenhills and he is blessed with lightning speed! He is also playing gaa down at St. Jude's and has been working hard on his skills - his pick-ups have especially improved! He also loves taking on his man which is what you want to see! Alfie has huge potential and if he keeps working hard, he will be a key figure for our Senior team in future years. In fact, he will be a triple threat in GAA, soccer and athletics!

Brody is a powerhouse of a player! He is the perfect target man as he can jump up and catch any high ball and when he gets the ball in his hand there is only one thing on his mind and that's to find the back of the net! He can also score beautiful long range points off that trusty left foot of his and is working hard on developing his right foot! Great news for us - he has recently joined Towers and by all accounts they are very impressed with him down there! He will definitely be ready for the Senior Team next year!

Jake O' Hanlon is a Cherry Orchard soccer star but he is also a very technically skilled GAA player. Jake is naturally sporty and he takes after his brother Leon in that regard! He can solo at speed which is very impressive for a boy who doesn't play GAA for a club and he strikes the ball beautifully off his right foot. Jake is a player with great potential and we're very excited to see how he develops over the next few years!

Jake's brother, Alex, is a really exciting prospect indeed! He is a little speedster who loves nothing more than to tear at defences on solo runs. He scored a brilliant goal and two points from play in that very entertaining match vs local school Gaelscoil na Camóige. If he can produce these sort of brilliant performances in Third Class, well.....all we can say is that we are very eager to see what Alex can produce in the coming years!

Daniel is a player that will always stand up and make himself counted! He's a fiery competitor that loves to be in the heat of battle! Daniel is always looking to take responsibility and make things happen for the team. He is super fit but he has plenty of skill too. He really impressed me against Gaelscoil and there's no doubt he has his eyes set on making his Senior debut next year. Keep up the practice, Daniel!

Marcus is without doubt one of our most outstanding prospects. He has sensational pace and can already execute a solo run at full speed! He is also a natural at catching high balls and can kick off either foot. Above all, Marcus is quiet and mannerly but very determined to learn and get better. He is as natural a talent as they come and is very likely to be one of our best players in future years!

Luke originally didn't try out for the GAA team this year but luckily for us, he had a change of heart. Luke is a very versatile player. He can play in defence, attack or even in goals! If I could pick out the most impressive aspect of Luke's game it would be his catching. He is superb in the air but he is also very brave and will never shy away from a tackle. Luke could be a bit of a dark horse going forward if he dedicates himself to working on his skills!

Oisin was definitely one of our most impressive performers for the Go Games team. He mostly played in goals and he was so secure in that position. He made some incredible saves and he had brilliant accuracy with his kickouts. He was always determined to find a player with a Sruleen jersey. Oisin is a talented lad and I'm sure he will be determined to make the step up to the Senior panel next year!

Conor Whelan is another one of our Third Class boys who has really impressed playing for the school team. He is a big, strong lad and has no fear of playing with the older boys. He is a great man to win a hard ball and his first touch is very impressive. Hopefully, he will consider joining Towers and follow in his brother Sean's footsteps who I hear has been absolutely flourishing down there!

Mason was the percussion man in the music club this year and boy does he have incredible musical talent. But it has also been great to see Mason try out for the GAA team this year and he has definitely been one of our most committed players - he never misses a training session. He has worked hard on improving his skills and his handpassing has been really good. I ultimately predict that Mason will have a career in music but we definitely hope to see more of him on the GAA field for the school.

Last but most certainly not least is Kaylum. Kaylum is a lively player with bags of energy. He has performed really well for the Go Games team this year. He is very versatile and has played in defence, attack and even in goals. He has a great instinct for predicting where the ball will go and has made some superb clearances. Hopefully, Kaylum has enjoyed his experience of playing GAA and will be eager to get back in the action next year.

There was no glory for our GAA teams this year but there doesn't always have to be glory for the children's talents and efforts to be acknowledged. There will be plenty more sport in the school for the boys and I'm sure they are already looking forward to that. Mr. Kelly has been very impressed and he is particularly excited about the batch of young players coming through. Mr. Scott deserves a mention as he really enjoyed being in charge of the Go Games boys team and Mr. Whelan was very much involved in training sessions after school and at lunch breaks. Mr. Stevenson was the man responsible for not just organizing all the Senior matches but also washing all the jerseys so I hope the boys appreciate him for that!

I also just want to take this opportunity to encourage the boys to keep practicing their skills! We have so many boys interested in playing GAA and I know some of them already play a different sport but we encourage the boys to play as many sports as possible (if possible) and Towers are always very welcoming to new players if they are eager to play more GAA! Regarding the Go Games team, the Go Games team is supposed to be predominantly made up of Fourth and Fifth class boys. Given the sheer amount of players that we have in Third and Fourth now, it is much more likely that the Go Games team will mostly be made up of Fourth and Fifth class players in future years but there might still be space for a few of next year's Thirds. If there isn't much space for next year's Thirds on this panel, we will try and organize a match or two for them in the final term. We will also try and get a photo of the Go Games team with the players we added from Third Class this year!

We also want to thank the parents and grandparents who have been so supportive of the boys all throughout the year. We always had more than enough volunteers to provide lifts to the away matches. We want to assure you that these sacrifices do not go unnoticed. It has been great to see so many people come out and watch the boys this year and long may it continue!

Finally, we want to wish our neighbours St. Joseph's the very best of luck in their final at Croke Park. We played them earlier in the year and they are a smashing team! I am sure they will do themselves and the school proud!


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