National Hurling Development Plan Launched

The GAA National Hurling Development Plan was officially launched yesterday by Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Criostóir Ó Cuana in Croke Park.

"I welcome the National Hurling Development Plan and the comprehensive nature of the proposals. The Hurling Development Committee was set up to review the needs of hurling taking into account the variations in standards across the country. I am now confident that this unique and skilful game will flourish."

"I wish every success to those who are involved in the implementation of the plan and I look forward to witnessing the positive results" stated the Uachtarán.

The Hurling Development Committee comprising; Liam O'Neill (Chair) Seán Silke, Mary O'Connor, John Fenton, Dr John Mc Sparran, Jimmy D'arcy and Pat Daly (Secretary) were present in Croke Park to launch the plan.

Uachtarán Tofa and Chairman of the Hurling Development Committee, Liam O'Neill, addressed the launch and thanked the Committee. He said "It was a pleasure to work with the Hurling Development Committee and I would personally like to thank all those who took part in the extensive consultative process.

"I believe that there is huge potential to really develop hurling and the real work begins now."

The main objective of the plan is to develop the skills and standard of hurling across the country.

The key proposals of the plan include:

• The development of the Táin Adult Club Hurling League to provide a meaningful programme of Hurling games on a regular basis for adult club players in 13 developing Hurling Counties.

• The establishment of the National Hurling and Camogie Development Centre in Waterford Institute of Technology Sports Campus.

• Provision of Sports Science supports to 6 Counties - Antrim, Down, Carlow, Laois, Westmeath and Kerry.

• Promotion of the Games Based Approach to Training and Development (Coach10 Model)

• Appointment of hurling mentors as part of a Support team who will collaborate with County Boards and provide guidance to Team Managers and Coaches involved with underage and adult County Teams to maximise participation and optimise performance.

• To undertake a Research Study as part of an overall project to facilitate Change Management in a development context

Joan O'Flynn President of the Camogie Association also welcomed the plan.
She said, "The Camogie Association welcomes this Plan which provides a platform to enable Camogie and Hurling to be promoted and developed together thus capitalising on the strong relationship that exists between the GAA and the Camogie Association. This will benefit all members of the Gaelic games family".

O'Neill aims to revive hurling in developing counties

Liam O'Neill, Uachtarán Tofa and Hurling Development Committee Chairman, says the Hurling Development Plan will help to re-establish hurling in counties where the game was struggling.

Hurling was hanging by a thread, literally, and it needed some sort of an intervention. It was never going to happen if we did what we did before.
Liam O Neill

Amongst the proposals outlined in the Plan, launched in Croke Park on Thursday, are the development of the Táin Hurling League, the establishment of a National Hurling and Camogie Development Centre in WIT and the appointment of mentors, including former inter-county managers Liam Sheedy and Joe Dooley, to provide guidance to coaches and managers in developing counties.

O'Neill, who will take over from Christy Cooney as Uachtarán CLG in April, says the idea of throwing money at the problem failed in the past and has been replaced by a radical new approach, the result of three years' work, which aims to promote and develop hurling throughout the country.
"Hurling was hanging by a thread, literally, and it needed some sort of an intervention. It was never going to happen if we did what we did before," O'Neill said at the launch of the plan in Croke Park.

"It was all about throwing money (at the problem), but now this has changed. This is a people-based plan and it is about games first.
"We set our stall out straight away with the Táin League. This is about games, getting hurling played, because if you don't play games you can't develop hurling."

Insisting the Plan is far more than ‘rhetoric', O'Neill highlighted the establishment of the Táin Hurling League and the establishment of a nationwide group of mentors to provide coaching and support to counties seeking assistance, as evidence that the proposals are already working.

The Táin Adult Club Hurling League, which provides games for 59 clubs in five divisions in developing counties - the nine Ulster counties, Louth, Longford, Leitrim and Sligo - was launched on Saturday, February 4, supplementing the pre-existing schedule of fixtures in the Allianz League, the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups. In addition, consideration is being given to the introduction of a Táin Youth Hurling League for club teams, schools and academy squads.

O'Neill is especially excited about the establishment of a group of 23 mentors, each of whom is paired with a county and will be on hand to provide support, expertise and guidance to managers and coaches with underage and adult county teams.

Joe Dooley, the former Offaly manager, will lend assistance to Antrim, 2010 All-Ireland winning boss Liam Sheedy of Tipperary will work with Tyrone and former Offaly great Michael Duignan has linked up with Longford.

"Liam Sheedy's job in Tyrone will be to sit down and to examine how hurling is run in the county at adult level, at youth level and say, ‘look this could be done differently'," added O'Neill.

"He might take an occasional coaching session, but it's not part of his brief.
"These people have examined what we are doing, seen a possibility and want to be part of it. When you have people of that calibre working as part of a plan you know you are going in the right direction."

Former Dublin manager Humphrey Kelleher will be working with Armagh, but stressed that his role is to provide assistance and guidance rather than to tell the county board what they need to do in order to develop hurling in the county.

"My role is a combination of finding out what they want to do and finding out how serious they are about it," said Kelleher. "I will go in and work with them to put their plan in place. It's so important to get them to buy into it."

Another exciting element of the plan is the establishment of a National Hurling and Camogie Development Centre (NHCDC) at the Carriganore Campus in WIT, where research and development in hurling-related areas such as sports science, coach and referee education and player development will be promoted.
A mobile unit will make the knowledge and expertise of the NHCDC staff available to players and coaches across the country as well as providing assistance to hurling mentor