The In­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing cham­pi­onship must be played as early as pos­si­ble this year

Bray People - - SPORT -

AS ONE who has been ad­vo­cat­ing change and mod­erni­sa­tion at County Board level for some time I at­tended, with great an­tic­i­pa­tion, the Open Fo­rum which took place on Jan­uary 7 in Aughrim.

All club sec­re­taries re­ceived no­tice of the event but I was sur­prised not to see the event ad­ver­tised in the lo­cal me­dia.

At this time of year there are very few club meet­ings tak­ing place and some club com­mit­tees may have re­cently changed so com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the event to club mem­bers was prob­a­bly lim­ited. As a re­sult I felt the size of the crowd in at­ten­dance was only av­er­age.

From the off­set peo­ple in at­ten­dance were told that mat­ters in re­la­tion to fix­tures would be ad­dressed at a sep­a­rate meet­ing on Jan­uary 15. A lot of the clubs' is­sues and con­cerns in 2012 re­lated to fix­tures.

Play­ers and clubs want reg­u­lar mean­ing­ful games in a de­fined pe­riod and if the fix­tures prob­lems are ad­dressed it will clear the way for the County Board to deal with other con­cerns un­der their re­mit. A printed book­let of the yearly fix­tures would be of huge ben­e­fit to both clubs and play­ers.

The first item on the agenda was the Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence in Bal­li­nakill. In th­ese fi­nan­cially chal­leng­ing times it's great to hear that ex­pen­di­ture is ei­ther on bud­get or slightly un­der.

The Devel­op­ment Of­fi­cer ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment at the level of in­ter­est shown by clubs re­gard­ing this sub­stan­tial project. It was dis­cussed and pro­posed to maybe have an­other Open Day to out­line where the project is cur­rently at.

A con­cern go­ing for­ward is the cost of main­tain­ing this fa­cil­ity. It will be nec­es­sary to ex­am­ine ways of self-fi­nanc­ing the com­plex. My con­cerns in this re­gard re­late to the lo­ca­tion of the fa­cil­ity and also the prospect of clubs be­ing levied to meet costs.

One of the big success sto­ries over that last cou­ple of years is the Ju­nior hurl­ing league. This league is played on Wed­nes­day nights dur­ing the sum­mer and is not in­ter­rupted by county teams or clashes with foot­ball games.

Last year saw some very one-sided games at this level mainly in­volv­ing Se­nior clubs with sec­ond teams. As the In­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing cham­pi­onship and the knock­out sec­tion of the Se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship didn't start un­til Septem­ber last year this meant that some Ju­nior teams had five Se­nior or In­ter­me­di­ate re-graded play­ers play­ing Ju­nior and this in turn led to some of th­ese onesided games.

In some cases this also meant that Ju­nior play­ers in Se­nior clubs were not se­lected to play Ju­nior with their own club as the club could use their re-graded In­ter­me­di­ate and Se­nior play­ers up un­til Septem­ber. This sit­u­a­tion is to­tally wrong and the Ju­nior hurl­ing league should be for Ju­nior play­ers and, where pos­si­ble, play­ers of the same level.

Oth­er­wise Ju­nior clubs like Avoca, Fer­gal Ogs, West­ern Gaels etc. will strug­gle to field Ju­nior teams if they are reg­u­larly on the re­ceiv­ing end of hid­ings. So, in 2013 we must play the In­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing cham­pi­onship as early as pos­si­ble in the year.

Con­cerns were also ex­pressed re­gard­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties some ru­ral Ju­nior foot­ball clubs found them­selves in due to em­i­gra­tion of many of their young play­ers which make it dif­fi­cult for them to field teams. It was also high­lighted that some of the big­ger clubs' sec­ond teams did not field in their spe­cific cham­pi­onship and then in turn used some of their play­ers to win cham­pi­onships at a lower grade.

On the night it was con­firmed that two new sep­a­rate re­view groups will be set up to ad­dress is­sues in foot­ball and hurl­ing un­der the re­spec­tive chair­man­ships of Martin Fitzger­ald and Jim Bob Doyle. De­tails of the per­son­nel in­volved in th­ese new com­mit­tees will be an­nounced over the coming weeks.

Con­cerns were raised from the floor in re­la­tion to the cur­rent work­ings of devel­op­ment squads and the huge fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment in­volved. The Coach­ing and Games Devel­op­ment Of­fi­cer con­firmed the dif­fi­cul­ties in at­tract­ing top coach­ing per­son­nel to work with th­ese squads.

He also out­lined which full-time staff mem­bers would be co-or­di­nat­ing par­tic­u­lar squads. We are very for­tu­nate to have five ex­cel­lent full-time coaches at our dis­posal in Wicklow.

Would the county and the play­ers not be bet­ter served if th­ese five coaches man­aged/coached th­ese squads rather than just co-or­di­nate them?

To be a suc­cess­ful county we need prop­erly run squads and our five lads are the most qual­i­fied and avail­able peo­ple to en­sure that squads are work­ing right and play­ers reach their full po­ten­tial.

In my opin­ion an­other op­tion could be to ask some of the top club coaches in the county to act as joint man­agers of a par­tic­u­lar squad.

How­ever, for this to work ef­fi­ciently, proper dates and re­quire­ments would have to be pro­vided to th­ese coaches in suf­fi­cient time. This in turn would en­able the club coaches to con­tinue work­ing with their re­spec­tive clubs while ex­pos­ing the squads to a gen­uine wealth of coach­ing knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ev­ery­one present on the night agreed that we in Wicklow need to pro­mote the bril­liant prod­uct which is the GAA in a more pro­fes­sional and dili­gent man­ner. This will in­volve us­ing the many me­dia av­enues avail­able to get the mes­sage across.

The county GAA web­site is cur­rently re­ceiv­ing ur­gent at­ten­tion which is ex­tremely es­sen­tial and crit­i­cal.

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