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Synge-ing sensation

By Johnny Byrnes and Ailbhe Ni Riain
The 2013 GAA season is well and truly underway, with Dublin’s footballers laying down a strong benchmark during their league campaign. As teams now look ahead to this summer’s All-Ireland schedule, a Dublin side brimming with confidence will be hoping to repeat their 2011 heroics.

One member of the Dubs panel who has fond memories of their 2011 All-Ireland triumph, Templeogue Synge Street’s Denis Bastick, spoke to the Liberty about his experiences with the game he loves to play.

“By getting involved with the game of football from a young age at school, I got a good taste for it. My school and its teachers had a big influence on me, and as a young player, being able to see the county teams playing in Croke Park was great. The possibility of replicating that when I grew up was a goal I wanted to achieve.”

The Dublin midfielder has stayed loyal to his local club, Templeogue Synge Street GFC. As he developed through the youth ranks in the club, Bastick became friends with a lot of the locals from the area and bought into the community feel within the club.

“The nice thing about GAA is that there are many different levels of competitiveness; the game is for all ages, not just for the league players. The great thing about the sport at club level is that you have 18-year-olds and 40-year-olds all playing together.”

Bastick echoes the opinion of many people when he speaks about the issue of the decline in the number of people playing GAA. The midfielder thinks that it is disappointing for club volunteers to see young players, who coaches have put a lot of effort into, give up and go down a different and sometimes troublesome path.

“It’s hard to witness young teens get distracted by off-field issues and see them lose touch with the game. What is even more surprising is that it is often the most talented and able ones that lose interest.”

He adds, “The biggest quality a person can have is determination; it is often the case that talented players, no matter how good they are, lack a certain inspiration. It’s unfortunate when you know what certain individuals are capable of and what they could do on a bigger stage.”

Away from his football career, Bastick has many words of praise for the players playing the other code of Gaelic Games, hurling. “Some of the players (hurlers) would have been on my teams growing up so it’s great to see them doing well.”

“There is a hurling club in the Dolphin’s Barn area called Kevin’s. Although they’re solely a hurling and camogie club, their proximity to us and their similar initiatives to encourage young people to get involved in GAA means the two clubs have a good relationship and have a lot of respect for each other.”

Bastick also says he has great respect for women’s GAA and the success the Templeogue Synge Street GFC  ladies teams are enjoying.

“It’s taken the club a few years to develop a strong ladies set-up but now that it’s in place, they are in a good shape to become very successful. In a club like this, which is so engrained with the community, it is good for families who have sons and daughters to know that they can get their daughters involved as well.”

Speaking about women’s GAA on a county level, Bastick admitted; “They don’t get as much exposure as the guys do. I think they could introduce a system where some of the women’s games are played before the men’s matches in Croke Park; this would showcase the women’s game to a much wider audience.”

The next aim on Dublin’s and Bastick’s agenda is to try and bring the Sam Maguire back to the capital. Bastick believes any one from a number of teams can claim the prize.

“In hurling, the All-Ireland crown usually goes to one or two teams. However, in football, the competition is wide open. You’ve got the likes of Cork, Kerry and the reigning champions Donegal. However, if we put a string of good performances together, Dublin definitely has a strong chance of regaining Sam.”

Photograph courtesy of Synge Street GAA

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