Kickhams defend decision to send U14s to Portugal

A DUBLIN club has defended its decision to send their U14s to Portugal before last weekend’s Féile tournament.

Division 1 champions Ballymun Kickhams won the prestigious underage All-Ireland, a first national title in the club’s history, on Sunday. The club had sent the U14s to Browns in the Algarve in Villamoura, a popular senior inter-county venue for pre-season training camps, three weeks before the event in Cork and had been accused of organising a training camp but manager Paddy Christie dismissed the notion.

“We went away for four days,” said the former Dublin star.

“I’ve heard numerous things being said, saying we were taking advantage and were cocky booking it before we won the Dublin Féile.

“But we booked it January. It was not a pre-championship preparation. We would never do that. It was a social trip and there were 15 parents with us. There was no mad fitness training.

“You can see how situation developed. But I’d say we trained for 10% of time we were there. It was more for the kids. When you’re training in January it’s something to look forward to. If we were knocked out we would still have gone.”

The club draws players from Glasnevin and Ballymun. Christie believed they have to manage their team differently from other clubs.

“We would be drawing from disadvantaged areas with social problems and all with it. Things like this all help the kids who are vulnerable and makes a big difference.

“As teachers we [the management] were interested in the good of the kids. I hope the kids stay playing, I hope it makes them better people and they’re better for the last four years [under him]. I can see how they’ve come on from boys to young men.”

In fact the only inside knowledge he had going to Cork was from his selector, Tomás Hayes, originally from Bishopstown. But beating St Michael’s from Blackrock in Cork in the semi-final was bittersweet for one of Hill 16’s favourite sons.

“Not many people know but I was born in Cork and spent the first four years of my life in Blackrock, it was strange.”

The club beat St Finbarr’s in the final on an impressive scoreline of 2-3 to 0-1 and hopes are high in Ballymun that they can go return to the halicon days of the ‘80s when Barney Rock and Dermot Deacy led them to two Dublin SFC titles.

Christie previously managed a Ballymun side from U10s up to U21s and last year 12 of that side started in the Dublin SFC while Philly McMahon and Alan Hubbard are on the current Dublin senior team. After helping them to two U21 titles in a row Christie returned to the U10s and has put in four years with this group.

However he has not set big targets for the youngsters.

“Two things at the start agreed on club never won a Dublin Division 1 Féile before and we achieved in April. The club has never won an U15 A either, we’ve won every other grade and that’s the priority for next year.”

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