Who cares about hurling? – John Martin
I HAD a rather disconcerting conversation last week. Unfortunately it wasn’t ‘on the record’ so I can’t divulge the names of the county officials with whom I was talking, but it was one of those conversations that leave you shaking your head afterwards, wondering is there any hope for hurling in counties where football is the undoubted king.
At the launch of the Ulster SFC at the Titanic building in Belfast last week, I was chatting with a county chairman over a cup of tea and I enquired how the National Hurling Development Plan was progressing in his county and in particular how the county board was working with its hurling mentor.
The hurling mentor was one of the key concepts set out in Liam O’Neill’s plan that was unveiled in February. You may remember it being launched, there was a funky looking bus, the Táin League announcement, a Centre of Excellence at Waterford IT, and of course the hurling mentor initiative.
The plan states that the “Aim of establishing a nation-wide group of hurling mentors… is to provide coaching and support expertise to counties seeking assistance. These mentors will be part of an elite performance support team that will collaborate with county boards and provide guidance to team managers and coaches involved with underage and adult county teams as part of an overall mentoring programme with a view to maximising participation, optimising performance, harmonising processes and capitalising on potential.”
The mentors chair a county hurling support group composed of county officers, the Games Development Manager, county hurling personnel, provincial support personnel, volunteers, and so on.
In other words, it’s a high level, major piece of work led personally by the President of the GAA Liam O’Neill – Uachtarán Tofa as he was then. But it seems that the stamp of approval from the highest office in the Association is still not enough for some counties to take any notice.
The conversation I had with the county chairman, alongside another senior officer, started when I referred to the hurling mentor by name, asking, by way of making conversation, how he was settling in. The question was met with a look of bewilderment, something akin to a teenager asking his septuagenarian granddad if he’d like him to retweet the latest score from Thurles.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published Thursday May 10. Buy your copy now in your newsagent, or online by clicking the subscribe button on this page