I be­lieve Jonathan Tal­lon will have to work in­de­pen­dently to ad­dress our hurl­ing is­sues

Bray People - - SPORT -

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.

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