PASSION APLENTY IN
Hurling clubs meet to discuss the future of the game
THE first of two special meetings called to discuss the future of Wicklow hurling and football took place in Ballinakill on Monday night last.
A small crowd turned up for the first discussion among the hurling clubs which turned out to be interesting and at times quite passionate.
It was abundantly clear that those in attendance all possessed an incredible desire for improvement, however, the fact that only eight of the 14 registered hurling clubs in the county turned up on the night is a real cause of concern for lovers of the small ball game in Wicklow.
Clubs had been invited to send views and proposals to the County Board ahead of the meeting and these were available in printed form on the night from county secretary Chris O’Connor.
Arklow Rock Parnells, Bray Emmets, Dunlavin, and St Kevin’s were the clubs who provided ideas and topics for discussion and these ranged from focusing more on club hurling rather than county to try and improve the standard in the county to addressing the problem that states, “Wicklow hurling has an image problem - nobody wants to hurl for Wicklow” with penty more in between.
After a short address from County Chairman Martin Coleman the discussion got underway with Arklow Rock Parnells’ Danny Curran the first to offer his thoughts.
Unfortunately, the discussion went on for almost two hours and it would be impossible to
bring you the full debate in this week’s editon so what follows is part one with the remainder of the discussion to follow in next week’s paper. Danny Curran (Arklow Rock
Parnells) - We feel that there is a lot of focus on the inter-county hurling and not enough focus on club hurling.
In recent times there was bad publicity on results the county Minor hurlers got but if you look the state of Minor hurling in the county how would you expect to have a competitive county Minor hurling team.
You’re probably looking at the Minor hurling championship, I believe it’s fixed for July, so it could be August and it normally runs into September, October, November.
So, you know, there should be more focus on the game in clubs, particularly at Under-16 and Minor where players are lost.
There should be less focus on getting county teams out and more focus on having good club competitions.
Martin Coleman - You would say that we would be better not putting a county Minor team out?
Danny Curran - I think you could get a Minor hurling team together, if you had strong club hurling, in a matter of weeks. Preparing one squad for a few months doesn’t necessarily improve hurling in the county. It’s better if the clubs are playing, whether it be 7-a-side or 11-a-side on designated days, you could have lads at least playing at that age. Tim Balfe (Carnew Emmets) - I’d have to agree with Danny. I think when we are trying to pull out Minor hurlers together, they haven’t hurled for six months before that.
The Minor championship gets run over, really and truly, two weekends in October, November.
It’s the only time that those guys get to hurl together. And then we try to pull them in together again in February to get a Minor hurling panel together, and that’s part of our problem.
That we have to put a structure in place where, and it’s not necessarily 15-a-side, the problem we have is that we are trying to put 15-a-side teams out all the time and it’s not working. The smaller clubs are struggling to get 15-a-side.
The hurling clubs are even struggling to get 15 players at this time of the year with exams and everything else that is going on. We need to look at 11-a-side or 13-a-side tournaments earlier in the year to get everyone together.
Instead of calling a county Minor hurling training for the first Saturday in March or the second Saturday in March, have a sort of a blitz where every hurler at that age in the county are there playing at that time.
It gives the guys who are running the team a view of everyone that’s playing and it builds an atmosphere where they can go into the county and they have to play in the middle of April or whatever it is.
Martin Coleman - So you’re saying that rather than having county training there should be Minor club competitions and pick your Minor squad from that?
Tim Balfe - The competitions need to start in time to give the guys time.
Martin Coleman - Ok, so Devil’s Advocate here. We’ve been trying for years to get our Minor championship played, rather than playing it in the depths of winter, it’s not fair to young lads, having them playing in the middle of November, and that’s what we have been doing.
But it’s difficult, because we
go to fix it then and there’s Junior hurling, Intermediate hurling, and Senior hurling in the club and lads are being pulled and dragged asunder.
Tim Balfe - Yeah, but for some reason we don’t have that issue in Minor football.
Martin Coleman - Well there is that issue but we just keep going with it.
Tim Balfe - Well maybe what we need to do then is to give preference to underage above adult hurling in the short term. Vincent Byrne (Arklow Rock
Parnells) - There’s no attractiveness to hurl in Wicklow at any age group.
From my point of view, from looking at it, there’s no attractiveness to hurl for any young lad.
And while we want Minor hurling teams to be successful and we want Under-21 and Senior teams to be successful, we need to make hurling attractive at Under-6s and we need to start there and work all the way up and you need to be making it attractive at Under-6s so that by the time they get to Under-14 every club would have a panel of 18 to 20 players at Under-14 and the same again at Under-16.
But it has to start at the very bottom. I’m speaking from the point of view that we have seven primary schools in Arklow town. We as a club are putting coaches into two of those schools once a week. And we’re doing that ourselves.
But there’s five other schools untouched in that town.
Colm French (Glenealy) - It should be the county paying for that. I think if you’re going to start, you need to have a plan in place, the County Board need to have a plan in place, over three years or five years, and that part of that plan, it needs to be coaching and you need coaching in schools and it’s the county that needs to drive that and I’d like to know how many coaches are currently employed by the county and how much money is invested by the county in coaching in the schools?
Because that’s where it has to start, and from that it will drive back into the clubs, whether they’re hurling clubs traditionally or not, and they will get the players back into the clubs.
You’ve got to start at Primary School level. If you look at rugby. I see it even in Glenealy. There’s rugby in our Primary School in the last four or five years.
We’re having to pay 50 per cent to put a coach into the Primary School in Gleenaly. We’ve no coach in Ashford.
I think the county needs to invest money and time if it is serious about hurling in the county.
And the coaches should be doing coaching. A lot of the GPAs’ work that they are doing is administration with some coaching. The coaches should be doing the coaching, not doubling up. That commitment needs to come from the county. Clubs don’t have the time or the money. We’re struggling as it is to provide our own coaches.
Noel Geragthy (Glenealy) - Having been involved with hurling squads at all levels, the gentleman from Arklow Rocks has hit the nail on the head.
We were dealing with players with a skill range from players who couldn’t pick up a ball or catch a ball to people who you could talk strategy about playing on the pitch.
You can’t teach a child trigonometry when the child can’t add. It simply doesn’t make sense.
I see hurling, honestly, as a conveyor belt of players that should come right through from that age to Senior.
And the county did a very good development plan for juvenile hurling in 2012 and there were a lot of good ideas in that. Most of which would tick most of boxes you just spoke of, Colm. I have a copy of it here.
The County Board should dust that off the shelf. You had high aspirations in it. It would be interesting to see how many of those aspirations have been achieved.
And, if they haven’t been achieved, fair enough. I’m not here to throw rotten apples at anybody but maybe they should be looked at again and you could say ok maybe we should try and do this.
Because I know from being involved in rugby, they’re plan was this. If we don’t get them at 10, some other sport will get them. We’re not letting any other sport in that school. Rugby is going to dominate. We’re going to put money in there and we’re going to get them out of that club and some of them are playing international rugby for Ireland now. And that’s the level of concentration. It’s absolutely clinical. We want them playing hurling and that’s what we have to do. In schools we have to get them at six, at four, at five. I say that slightly in jest but I’m deadly earnest. Brendan Cuddihy (Eire Og Greystones) - One thing I would suggest is that we do a census of actually what’s out there at the minute.
Vincent (Byrne) said it about the kids not wanting to hurl. We don’t have a great image at the moment.
Maybe the image matches the reality and we don’t like that. We do have to do something about that.
We do have to have an honest appraisal of where we’re at and