Impressive plan in place for hurlers
Major investment in 2019 Minor squad
THE future of hurling in Wicklow looks to be in very safe hands if next year’s Minor hurlers grasp the wonderful opportunity being presented to them by Wicklow hurling GDA Jonathan Tallon and his backroom team.
Jonathan Tallon was speaking at a special evening in Laragh where the under-16 team that won the Michael Foley Shield last season were to be presented with their medals. That team will now form the backbone of the Minor hurling squad of 2019 who will enjoy a structure and training regime unheard of for underage hurling teams in Wicklow.
‘The plan going forward is that we are going to regionalise the county,’ said Jonathan Tallon, at the Minor hurling launch and presentation night in Lynham’s of Laragh last weekend.
Tallon presented an ambitious and intelligent plan for 2019 that sees the county split in two and impressive resources in terms of strength and conditioning, medical, nutrition and organisation.
‘We have 38 under-17 players who have been invited up and we have 21 under-16 players who have received word about it as well. There are huge playing numbers there for Minor hurling,’ he added.
‘Instead of trying to get everyone down two nights a week to Ballinakill – it’s a long drive, over an hour for some people – what we are going to be doing is splitting the county straight down the middle, so there’s going to be an East team and a West team. You’re going to be training in your districts for five weeks before Christmas, a two-week break at Christmas and then your back in for four weeks after Christmas,’ he added.
Tallon went on to describe the schedules for both teams with the East side doing gym work in Dunbur Park on a Tuesday and a pitch session on a Saturday morning. For the West side there will be a gym session on a Thursday in Kiltegan and a Saturday session at a venue to be decided each week.
‘On February 2, the East will be playing the West in practice games,’ said Tallon, who then showed the young hurlers present their new training tops which they will be assigned and will have to look after themselves and bring to training.
A short break in training will then be followed by a short break and then a six-week block (regional training on Wednesday and Ballinakill for matches on a Saturday morning. The players were also informed that there will be a Facebook page (private) where videos of the practice game will be published where players can view their own performances with feedback available at all times from the coaches.
‘At the end of that we will have a provisional ‘A’ and ‘B’ panel selected,’ said Tallon. ‘then we’ll go back into a four-week regional training block. When it comes to April, we’ll start splitting the training, so the ‘A’ panel will train as the ‘A’ panel and the ‘B’ panel will train as the ‘B’ panel. That doesn’t mean that you’re on the ‘A’ or the ‘B’. You can be bounced from the ‘A’ to the ‘B’ and from the ‘B’ to the ‘A’ right up until May 1 when the Celtic Challenge starts.
‘The Celtic Challenge is a Tier 2 competition. What we’ve decided to do is play two teams in this competition so that you are guaranteed five games rather than just two. It is a Tier 2 competition, but you have six divisions, there are eight groups and five teams per group. The top two divisions are all pooled together, and you come out with two tables. It’s a league system and however you finish on your league you go into either Division 1 or Division 2 quarter-final.
‘Wicklow typically operate around Division 5, which is second last, and as the lads who were involved last year will know, you were in the pool with the Division 5 and 6 teams, you did very well out of that, you jumped up and got up to Division 3 where you played in a division 3 quarter-final.
‘What that means this year is that our ‘A’ team will be pooled with Division 3 and 4 teams, so by winning that you can potentially jump up to Division 2 and if we do very well you can jump up to Division 1 where you would be playing the second teams from the likes of Kilkenny and Wexford. And, I think it‘s safe to say, any team that is coming out of Kilkenny or Wexford would more than compete at the Tier 1 competition in Leinster. So, it’s a massive grade and that’s where we want to aspire to.
‘Division 3 is the goal for our ‘A’ team, and we want no less than Division 3. Even though we have a ‘B’ team and we’re operating in Division 5, we’re not happy in Division 5. We’re not entering a second team just for the sake of it. We’re entering a ‘B’ team in the hope that we get to Division 4. If it’s a thing that we don’t get the buy-in for a second team, or that the S&C is not used or whatever, we’re not entering a ‘B’ team. We’re not dragging lads in and trying to scrape a team together. It will be cut. The funding will go to the ‘A’ team, the same money will be used for one team rather than two,’ he added.
Current Wicklow Senior player Ronan Keddy wished the lads all the best of luck for the season ahead and he told them that he had never enjoyed such profes- sionalism during his time as a young hurler.
Jonathan Tallon’s backroom team consists of an East team: Philip Campion, Eoin Doyle, Graham Bushe and Michael O’Loughlin. A West management team of Tallon, JJ Phelan, Geoffrey Bermingham and Michael Mangan. Athletic Evolution (Shay Dunne and Gary Jameson) are the S&C coaches, John Coyle is involved in the medical side and Cormac Noone has signed all the players up to the Smartabase app to monitor them ahead of their training sessions.
‘The support is there for ye,’ said Jonathan Tallon to the gathered players and parents. ‘Everyone is backing ye, all we need now is the players. So, as much as ye are willing to push on ye have our support 110 per cent,’ he added.
There were also presentations from Shay Dunne on the S&C side of things and Cormac Noone described how his Smartabase app works.
All that remains now is for the hurlers to realise their potential.
Eimear McCole, Jonathan Tallon, Owen Doyle, Adam Winters, Cormac Noone and Graham Bushe.
Darragh and Ken Redmond from Carnew Emmets.
Mick O’Brien, Colin Dorgan, Knotty O’Brien and Bill O’Brien.
Derek Byrne and Michael Moran at Lynham’s.
This season’s Wicklow under-16 hurlers with Ronan Keddy and Billy Cuddihy.
Eoin Byrne, Brandon Ryan and Ciaran Harmon.
Mag and Peter Twoomey.
Owen Byrne and Billy Cuddihy having the craic!