PAS­SION APLENTY IN

Hurl­ing clubs meet to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the game

Bray People - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE

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

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