Saturday 16 April 2016

The Wonky Cup feeling....sometimes, you just get that feeling....

It does not happen often, but, everynow and again, you really understand what it means to be part of a club. Tonight, our men's team, returned from Connemara having beaten MacDara and won their league. As the lads gathered for a few pints and sat down together to share a meal, you could sense the energy and satisfaction in the room. I walked in and saw the cup...I wasn't sure how to describe it...small and slightly wonky... But, you know what, it didn't matter, each of the team picked their cup up and reflected....August pre-season, 14 league matches contended, some horrificn pitches and weather, and, they emerged as winners - how can there be any better feeling. Most of the team have grown up playing with Colga, some have left for a spell, and it has been a while since this group had shared any success - tonight, you get the sense of a journey recommenced. The first step towards something slightly unknown, but, filled with potential.

Earlier today, I met a former Colga coach - he had just arrived in Kilcornan with his team getting ready for an under 12 league match. I bumped into him in the car park of the new clubhouse just beside the fence with all of the club's new sponsors. 12 months ago, he left the club, didn't feel it was quiet right, the structure and support just wasn't there...he glanced around, reflected, and said, "this is unbelievable, the change and progress is stunning. And, and, the place smells of football." To me, there cannot be any better compliment.
I left him and got our own team ready for the match. We warmed up and then sat in the dressing room together. "Can you smell it lads," and they looked at me worridely, "there is no smell like this in the world. This is the smell of football." And out they strode, walked down the new steps, onto their new pitch, and knew they were part of a club.

Tonight, I got the next bag ready. For all that happened today, tomorrow ignites another journey. Our under 10 team heads off to compete in Mayo in another tournament. My son plays...I can only try to guess into his mind. He has his gear bag ready...his boots, not exactly clean, his socks and shinpads, he is worried because he has no tape, his shorts, his jersey, and his Colga hoodie. His questions - what time are we going, who are we playing, is it on grass? I asked him how he was feeling about the matches tomorrow and he said...."Dad, I have that know, I can't wait but I've got that strange wonky feeling in my tummy."
I know, I said. "Every now and again, and it's not that often, sometimes you just get that feeling."

Friday 8 April 2016

Colga 2020 vision and meeting

On Sunday, April 10th, Colga FC will host an open house meeting to get input and ideas on the future of our club. The meeting takes place from 4-6pm in Paddy Burkes and the club welcomes anyone with ideas or initiatives they would like to bring to the club as we work towards our vision for the next 5 years. If you are wondering why you should attend, please take a moment to read through the following

Colga FC is a community based football club entirely run by volunteers – focused on providing the best possible football facilities, coaching, and environment for our players, coaches, and members.

Back in 1996, when Colga was formed, the club provided football for one men’s team. Twenty years on, nearly to the day, Colga FC now runs 24 girls, boys, ladies, and men’s teams and has nearly 500 players and members. The club has won premier leagues, has consistently competed in the latter rounds of the Connacht and Irish cups and has achieve national cup success. We currently boast 2 UEFA B licensed coaches and more than 40 certified FAI coaches. Irrespective of who you ask within the circles of the Irish football family, Colga is instantly recognized as a club growing, on the move, and providing a wonderful environment for the development and preparation of our players.


Five years ago, the club held an open house meeting to ask the members their view of the future of the club. Your answer was clear – build us a place we can call our homeinvest into coaching and provide the best possible support, structure, and environment to develop players through the medium of football. It is quite amazing to think back to that meeting and realise all that has been achieved. Kilcornan now stands proud as the home of Colga FC – a floodlight training area, 2 full sized pitches, a brand new lower pitch used today for our younger kids but soon to be opened as our main pitch, sponsorship signage from our friends and local businesses surrounding our pitches and instantly making our home recognized as a place of “football,” and a brand new clubhouse and dressing rooms providing our players, coaches, and friends with a “home.”


The question is – what is next?.  Each and every one of our members and friends should be part of that discussion. The meeting next Sunday will not be about Colga presenting our plans for the future – it will be about asking each and every one of us what we want our club to be. What do we need Colga FC to be for our daughters, our sons, ourselves, and expressing an opinion about what we can jointly achieve.


I would really appreciate the support of the entire Colga family to come and attend this meeting. We will not keep you long, we want you opinion, we will listen, and our joint goal is to agree a future of what we want Colga to be in 2020.
Dave Silke
Chairperson, Colga FC


Sunday 20 September 2015

Its all kicked off....

What a fantastic couple of weeks we have had as a club. The season was a little later than normal kicking off because of the hurling All Ireland but once things got going it got going very quickly.

This weekend over 400 Colga players kicked off their training or the first matches of the season. Our youngest recruits, the Colga Cadets, began their football journey and how many football stories will these little people have to tell in the coming years is anyone's guess.
Colga's league and cup campaigns kicked off in earnest across all of the age groups competing in the Galway District Leagues. Our under 12 squads, numbering over 35 in total, began competitions in the Connacht Cup and Championship and Division 2. What a wonderful sight on Saturday to see our 2 under 12 teams compete on our new pitch versus Craughwell and Corrib Celtic. Despite the results all of these lads and these teams have bright futures.
The under 13 lads opened up their premier and Division 2 competitions with games versus Athenry and Kiltullagh. Great to see the U13A side kick off with a great win and I have no doubt the B squad will recover from an early turnover. Not many people will note, Colga is one of the few, if not only, community based clubs providing A and B football from under 12 to under 16.
The under 14 league and cup kicked off with our u14A team in the Connacht cup first round. Great win for Gerry, Dave, and the team against Athenry and this was followed up with a premier league victory against Barna. Colga's u14B squad began with a league loss away to Corofin.
And, our under 16 boys teams have already won a Connacht cup first round and began both the Premier and Division 1 leagues. Great to see 2 Colga teams competing at this age group in boys as last season we did not compete at this age group.

For a couple of years the men's junior team has struggled. Unbeknown to most club members, Dermot Finn, the junior manager, and Ollie Mullins, our new junior (and u15 up) coach, got the men's team back into pre-season in mid July. Lot's of runs, training, friendly matches, coupled with ensuring all of our former members know they always have a home, and the team kicked off the Division 3 league with a great 7-1 win vs. Loughrea. I am a firm believer that any club has to have a strong senior team, a goal for all our players to aspire to, and as a club we can all look forward to successes with this team ahead.

This year, unlike others, the girls season kicked off in September. Colga is fielding teams at under 17/18 Premier, under 16 Premier, under 14 Premier, and under 12 Premier and Division 1. The girls under 12 and 14 premier leagues have already kicked off and our girls under 16 team had a fantastic result in Sligo this weekend. This team, competing in the 2015 Connacht Shield, travelled to Sligo and won their semi final 6-2. Already we have a Connacht Final to look forward to as a club.

Finally, with as much football going on, it is easy to forget the great weekend the club had last week. In conjunction with the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival, Colga co-hosted the annual Oyster Festival Family fun day. Despite the awful weather, over 400 club members attended to enjoy the outdoor "wet" activities and listen to the entertainment from the Amazing Apples. One of the highlights for the day was the annual Colga Duck Race. This year we got our club President, Mike Bindon and our junior coach Ollie Mullins into the Clarin river to collect the winning ducks....given the torrent flow this was well beyond the call of duty. It was great to see so many of the club together, volunteering, playing, talking, and it certainly demonstrated the importance of being a club.

This season will be exciting, we will be fielding the most number of under age teams ever, and, whilst participation and enjoyment is everything, I have a sneaky suspicion the club will also be celebrating some silverware this season.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

A club - what is a club?

What is your club? Is it a place to play, a pitch, a team you play with every Saturday, train with during the week, a conversation, something to argue about, a shared experience with a group where otherwise you may struggle to make a connection, a connection with your child, a place to be with people you have grown to call friends....this question has become more and more relevant recently with football debates and concerns over player poaching, young lads leaving for other clubs, with supposedly better facilities and coaches, leading to better opportunities and advancement....I have been involved in football all my life - over 45 years now. I have played with some great players, they  played in World Cups and in premier leagues, and I have been blessed to be influenced by some amazing mentors and coaches, and through football, I have met my greatest friends.
Normally, I would not write about my personal feelings or influences but I believe this is important. For me, a club is about where you belong - it is about how you feel deep inside, what makes you tick, what motivates, what makes you want to play with the guy beside you, what you feel when you arrive at your home ground, the gate, the wall, the familiarity, how you sit in your own dressing room, probably the same seat, when you put on your jersey, how you run onto your own pitch, and how you feel strange when it is not yours....the pitch is different, the smell, the feel, the ref, yet, not at home, you look around, familiar lads, your coach, your jersey, your club, still away from home, but at least together, a team away from home, representing your club.

A club to me is being absolutely part of something. Not only the team you are playing on but passionately wanting the other teams to succeed and's checking the weekly fixtures, it's praying the weekly results go our way, it's revelling in the success of a team from our home, it's being proud of wearing that hoodie to school, it's liking your club, it's sharing a tweet, it's posting a photo, its instagramming your greatest moment....and ultimately, in person, it's so obvious to everyone what you love, why you love it, and it is part of what you are and most likely where you came from. It's your club.

Next season, Colga FC celebrate our 20th year as a club. Lot's more will be written and shared about the genesis and the experience to date, but, for now, we want to recognise what we are as a club. We want to begin our celebration about what it means to wear the red and white, what it means to debate are we from Clarinbridge, Kilcolgan, Kilcornan, touching Kinvarra, and kissing Craughwell, but ultimately, a club which recognises the importance of the past as we build for the future. For those of you who read this blog, potentially from far and wide, irrespective of your involvement in our club, recognising it does not matter if you have left us for a period of time, we want to reach out and reconnect. We want to hear from you and ensure you feel part of what the club wants to become.
As part of this, on Saturday, June 6th, Colga will celebrate our annual World cup day in Kilcornan. Later that evening, in Paddy Burkes, we are hoping to get everyone, past and present, involved with the club, to get back together and share experiences...share memories...share stories...but most importantly, share what it means to be part of our club. Colga FC.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

What is it?

"What is it," he asked. "What is it?"

The Irish cup is a love affair. Teams travel the four corners of this country searching for an elusive prize. From under 12 to 18, three hundred team across Ireland enter this great competition. The big teams sail through their regional/divisional games. They presume national success....six nil, five one, maybe a close 4 nil thrown in...four games in and they are relishing success...they showed up against the same old teams, won, and moved on. 

From an original 300, 16 clubs remain from across the land. The draw is made and the tide changes. No longer facing the same old rivals; no longer sitting in their own dressing room; no longer recognising the referee; no longer knowing the wind and the slope of the pitch; only knowing and fearing what you don't know.

2 of these clubs, last Saturday, followed a set of directions...from the midlands, from off at Oranmore, took a left at the roundabout, a right at Fury's cross, continued for 2 miles, stopped, Casey's Cross, stayed right at the fork, went up the hill, entered the woods...they looked right and saw our "home in the woods."
Any visiting team arriving would be struck by the setting. The trees and the woods, the rolling landscape, the panoramic view. They park their bus, look around, and wonder, Colga FC, and they try to figure it out....many come from the big leagues, with carpet perfect surfaces, majestic clubhouses, warm showers and dressing a club we know, it's coming, not quiet there yet, but it's coming...
And they all got a welcome, nearly in the hundreds, as little men from Portloaise and Bray and Colga pitted themselves against each other, my goodness, they got a welcome. Our home in the woods reverberated with shouts of anguish, of nearly's of what should have been, and eventually what was...both sorrow and joy. Between heroic penalties and injury time goals, joy for the home team, sorrow for the visitors, the tide had turned....and they all shared a cup of tea, a coffee, a cake, a sandwich, all welcomed and included in our home....and they talked about the love affair that began months and months ago and what they dreamed about.
And, as the buses departed, the crowds left, and our home in the woods became quiet again, 2 teams still had that dream. And, he looked up, and asked, "what is is, Dad, what is's belief."

Saturday 18 October 2014

Defeated Winners

Over the past few months a lot of the energy of the Galway FA and representative clubs has been spent on arguing and trying to agree a position on the so called "poaching" rule. In essence, this rule is put in place to restrict the flow of elite players from one club to another. One could write for hours on this topic and what associations, national and local, clubs, and players should do to maintain the "game" of football in Galway. Indeed, it is so easy to get completely absorbed in this topic and all of the other critially important challenges of running a club that you forget the things that really matter.

Earlier today, our under 14 boys B team played a league game versus Barna. The continuation of Colga's B teams has been the subject of a lot of debate - primarily due to the concern that we would not have enough players to complete and fulfill a season. However, as a club, we absolutely believe in the development of all our players as individuals through the medium of football. More importantly, we want to give players a chance...a chance to believe, a chance to play, a chance to express, a chance to achieve, a chance to put on a jersey for a club they love and cross that white line as part of one team...a chance to be included as a peer on a Saturday afternoon...

So, as we arrived in Furbo on a blustry Saturday afternoon with 11 lads, all of us were conscious of the performance and results of the team over the past 4 matches....lost 4, given up 15 goals and scored none. To put it mildly, we did not hold much hope for a result against a formidable Barna team. What happened is an important story to, there was no magic kingdom happy ending of defeating the unbeatable opposition.

Just before the match we gathered as a team. Hunched together on our knees we spoke about why we were here and what we could potentially achieve. As the coach, I looked around at the bare 11 and asked them one question - why were they here? To play, to win, to enjoy....they knew...they had no illusions they would win...we talked about why this was the most important game they had ever played in...because it was their next....we talked about our last opponents, Merlin Woods, and why one of their players would never get the chance to sit in a group like this again....he had died playing football in the very next game...we just sat as a team, being jostled by the wind, but we talked, we spoke, we felt, and we got up to play.

3-0 down at half time...script delivered as written. We sat again as a team....why were we here. Why was this the most important game we had ever played....why we were all so very fortunate to be here, heavily breathing, but breathing. And up these brave young men got...a heavy wind aiding and the unbridled joy of their 1st goal....the near belief this was doable with the 2nd goal....and they ran, and they tackled, and they tried, oh how they tried, and they roared for each other, and they felt as one team, and they lost....yes, they lost, Disney had deleted the happy ending script.

At the end, we sat as a team...I looked around with absolute pride. This was football - this was 11 young men doing what they absolutely love to play, to be included, to be part of something. We all agreed this was the most important game of our lives and we had given it all we had to give. We thought about Merlin Woods and the poor boy no longer kicking that football, or hugging his team, and we celebrated our best game ever....defeated but winners..and it had to make you think. Football is about playing, it's about loving being part of a team, it's about donning a jersey and crossing a line and being a part of something more than just you. Let's never forget why we play this game - we love it.

Friday 3 October 2014

A month in......

It was autumn, a good few years ago, and a good friend of mine walked out of his apartment in Knoxville, Tennessee, and he looked up, smiled, and said, "there is football in the air." Yes, he was referring to the beginning of the college American football season, games attracting 100,000 people, and as we enter into October and the 2nd month of our new season his words still strike strong. There may not be the hundreds of thousands in attendance, but, already, all of the Colga teams have embarked on this season's journey - for us all, players, coaches, parents, and friends, it will be a rollercoaster of emotions. Expectations that will either develop from the kindle embers into roaring fires or will be extinguished as soon as the first October rain hits. Whether it comes from the fields of Knoxville Tennessee or our home in Kilcornan Woods, there is definitely that beautiful smell of "football in the air."

This season, Colga FC has competitive teams playing in Galway Football Leagues from under 11 to senior men's. We are fortunate to be able to field boys teams from u11-u15 and junior men's. Our girls and ladies represent our club across every eligible age-group from u10 to u18. One needs only to hop up to our home ground, Kilcornan, any night of the week, to see the impact of football across all of these players as we continue to ensure we build our home amongst the woods.

The heart and sole of Colga FC is to provide an opportunity for all players to develop themselves as individuals through the medium of football. This is as true for the child kicking their first ball at under 5 as it is for our teenage and adult teams competing at the higher levels. As a club, we certainly wish each and every one of our players the enjoyment they deserve on and off the pitch as part of our club. No doubt, it will be an eventful and "story" filled season.