I believe Jonathan Tallon will have to work independently to address our hurling issues
IT is not very often I get to say this but what a busy week we had here in Wicklow from a hurling perspective with the emergency meeting last Monday, the announcement of a new hurling development officer on Tuesday and the important win in yet another relegation play-off to thankfully save our Christy Ring Cup status.
I couldn’t make the emergency meeting last Monday in Ballinakill as it clashed with a hurling fixture I was involved in.
I was disappointed not to be in a position to attend and I am sure the few County Board officials in attendance were also relieved by my absence.
It is also a pity the Wicklow Games Manager was not in attendance as it would have been worthwhile to hear his views on hurling in the county.
I have given my views many times in black and white on the sorry state of Wicklow hurling and I fully stand behind all of them.
I was contacted by some people who did attend the meeting and read the extensive coverage in this paper last week so I am up to speed on what took place.
Hopefully we can now address our issues and move on.
I was, however, surprised to hear that no form of apology was afforded to the players who made themselves available to play for our county Minor hurling team.
The fact that the County Board can’t see that they neglected these players is astonishing.
No matter what people say, these players were afforded no chance to prepare properly for the Leinster Minor Championship.
It is coincidental that when the excellent, truthful and heartfelt letter written by the young hurlers from Kiltegan was published around the country that the alarm bells went off and “emergency procedures“were then put in place.
Kilkenny man, Michael Kavanagh, was summoned to train the team.
A phantom list of Under-16 and Under-17 hurlers in Wicklow appeared in this paper some of whom aren’t even hurling for their clubs not to mention with development squads.
Why was Michael Kavanagh or someone similar not approached to coach the Minor team last October?
If a profile coach was appointed back then we could well have got things sorted.
If problems continued following such an appointment of a suitable coach/manager then we could look at the clubs and their contribution.
Look at the embarrassment this letter caused to our County Board by nobody making a simple phone call.
I don’t agree with the County Chairman when he says that the same facilities are available to the hurling people as are in place for the football and the letter from the three players certainly doesn’t back up the Chairman comments.
It would be interesting to compare the total budget spent on the Minor hurling and Minor football squads this year.
The Under-14 hurling development squad is in trouble as I recently pointed out.
From the emergency meeting it appears that this squad has not trained or been together in well over two months.
These players are not doing exams so there are no reasons for them not to train.
The fact that the County Board officials at the emergency meeting were not aware of the plight of the Under-14s, while not a surprise, is a worry. Hopefully urgent action will immediately be taken to get this squad back on track before we lose them. How can we entice players to hurl for Wicklow with this going on?
A hurling GDA for Wicklow - thankfully a step in the right direction.
Jonathan Tallon’s appointment will be a considerable challenge for him at this time but is a massive boost for hurling prospects in Wicklow. I wish Jonathan all the best in his new position. I believe that by highlighting to Leinster Council and Croke Park all that was problematic with Wicklow hurling helped in securing a hurling position and the fact that Jonathan was appointed so quickly following Leighton’s announcement leads me to believe that Jonathan would have been appointed with or without Leighton’s departure. In fact I believe that a replacenment for Leighton could still be on the cards.
In an era of openness and transparency I am surprised that this position was not advertised and open to all young potential coaches in Wicklow to apply for.
Jonathan will firstly need to identity his job description and in conjunction with his relative stakeholders compile a three-year strategic plan for hurling in Wicklow.
He needs to look at four or five areas where he can realistically implement change.
I don’t believe he can afford the time to go into random schools across the county to coach or spend his summers parading around Cúl Camps. He must quickly seek to identify and enlist the help of suitable volunteers.
I also believe that he will have to work independently as a hurling officer to address the specific problems Wicklow have in hurling and should not be answerable to a Games Manager.
This has not worked for the last two decades in Wicklow.
As expected Wicklow retained their Christy Ring status for another year. A comprehensive victory over a Derry team who failed to win a competitive game all year was an encouraging way to end the year.
In a year that promised so much with a new manager at the helm, unfortunately it never overly excited. Two relegation play-offs tells its own story. However, I expect the same management team to remain in situ unless fellow strugglers Wexford come calling.
This was a year that could have promised so much but I felt there was a considerable fall off in standards and this is reflected by Armagh winning the league and Meath reaching their first ever Christy Ring final.
Our inability to perform consistently when needed is an area the management will need to address in 2017.
The skillset to be able to entice and retain the best players in the county to play next year will be an important tool if Wicklow are to have any chance of success.