Bord na



When Ballina Stephenites became the first club in Ireland to set up a dedicated Bord na nOg structure the foundations were put in place to compete at the highest level for the next 40 years. Last year the club completed a complete review of the current structures and found while the systems of old had stood us in good shape, future survival required a shake up. A restructuring of our underage set up led to the creation of the Young Knites Academy under the direction of Director of Coaching Eanna Casey.

The club’s focus at underage level will now be broken up into different categories to cater to the needs of our young players at the different stages of their development.

The Young Knites will now effectively incorporate all young footballers in the Bord na nOg ranks with a particular focus on those under the age of 12. At this stage, most of the technical fundamentals of Gaelic football should have been coached extensively and there is a coaching shift to team play and tactical prowess.

“There is a different focus at each age group within the structure and we aim to coach at an age and stage appropriate level.”

“We’re hoping to teach children how to train. Once they graduate as Young Knites they should have the basic technical fundamentals to carry them through for the rest of their careers” said Eanna.


The programme will work on six key areas aimed at enabling children in a fun environment.

Agility exercises through activities with games like dodgems, musical chairs, shadows and minefield

Balance exercises and activities like copy cat, leaning tower, animal walk

Kicking, the essential element of Gaelic football, using a variety of balls and beanbags and games

Coordination exercises and activities like circle time, log roll, stepping stones

Team games to teach the children about teamwork, use of space and fair play through games

Throwing, catching and passing through a series of fun games like bounce and shoot, roll and pick up.

Not every player who comes in will stay playing football. We talked to Crossmaglen and part of this process will be to adopt a strategy they have used to develop their club to what it is today. They want their members to stay in active roles until they are 25. That encourages kids to learn how to run a club and take leadership roles. It’s not all about developing players, it’s about developing young men.

We’re working to establish life-long skills in our players which they can carry with them forever. It’s s not a fool proof system and we’re not saying this is the finished article. We as a club realise we have got to learn and constantly adapt. This is just a platform to work off.

The U6 (academy level) starts in early March in the club on Sunday mornings at 11.30am while the rugby season is ongoing. When the rugby season ends the U6s will switch to Saturday mornings at 11.30am. With an already under resourced coaching core, the challenge is to find fresh coaches to help out.


Team games to teach the children about teamwork, use of space and fair play through games like rob the nest and dodgeball

To Download the Young Knites Player Development Platform Document click here

Contact Information

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Stephenites Ground, Lord Edward St, Carrowcushlaun West, Ballina, Co. Mayo, F26 E622