Rebounders honing the skills of An Spidéal’s young hurlersSeptember 7, 2012 - 7:00am
Mention An Spidéal and you most likely think of Gaelic football, the popular TG4 soap Ros na Rún or attractive TV presenters, sisters Gráinne and Síle Seoige. Rarely would you contemplate An Spidéal as a hotbed of hurling.
Yet, for all that, it may surprise some to hear that there has been a long and proud tradition of hurling in the village. An Spidéal GAA Club, itself, was established in 1906 and it is said that there was a hurling team in the club at its inception.
Indeed, since then, the club, which stretches approximately five miles along the coast road from Doire Locháin through Spiddal village to Púirín, has fielded – and continues to field – a large number of teams in all age groups in both codes.
While there are not many pictures or snippets of information regarding the club available from the beginning of the last century, recently a photograph of an An Spidéal team from 1912 was unearthed as part of a heritage project between Galway County Council and the Galway County Board. The picture shows the Spidéal hurling team standing under the trees as they ready themselves to take to the field.
You might well ask where is this going? Well, to recognise the 100 year plus history of hurling in the club, a company that provides sports equipment has thrown its weight and support behind An Spidéal’s young hurlers to help them fulfil their potential.
In all, Banaghans of Tipperary has given an obligation to supply 18 rebounders – an elasticised net on a fixed metal frame – to players on An Spidéal’s U-8 team to help them hone their skills and, hopefully, realise their potential on the field of play in the coming years. The ‘Hurling Rebounder’ has been designed by former Tipperary All-Ireland winner and All Star, Michael Cleary.
Just a word on the rebounder. When the sliotar is struck against the net it is ‘rebounded’ at speed towards the player – at much greater speed than when struck against a wall. Using the rebounder improves catching and blocking skills, hand eye co-ordination and striking accuracy.
Also, when the ball is struck against the centre of the net it rebounds directly to the player but when struck off centre the ball returns at different trajectories and this variation in the return of the sliotar improves the reflex reactions of the player.
At the moment, the hurling division of the club uses two of them. The idea to embrace the equipment in training came from An Spidéal’s U-8 coaches Anthony Murray and Jimmy Morris, both of whom had purchased the rebounder for their own children and had seen the positive results it had in improving the fledging stars’ skills.
Over a few weeks, you could see the benefits,” says Portumna native Murray. “When you start with them, you kind of think they are not going to be even able to get a block on it, but they are starting to catch the ball now.
“Even with the few you might see dropping away [from the game] in a few years time, there was great improvement. There is one young fellow there and I thought I would never see him catch a ball but last night he caught a few off the rebounder.
“The small fellows sometimes find it hard to hit it, though, so what we do is – Jimmy or I – would hit the ball off the rebounder and they would catch it on the way back,” explains Murray, who notes the equipment has not only improved the children’s striking and catching, it has also enhanced their reflex action.
“We play a match now and some of the lads are hitting it (the sliotar) 30 or 40 yards further. It definitely has brought them on a good bit. I suppose clubs which have a ball wall, it probably wouldn’t be an advantage but for a club that wouldn’t have a wall, these would be good.”
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.