A NEW model for the development of Gaelic games in Ennis could drive a wedge between existing clubs, Éire Óg and the Banner. The report recommends the aligning of schools to specific clubs, which has not been the case before.
“We envisage the role of the urban clubs and schools to be the feeder areas for two vibrant parent clubs in Ennis. Each school has been allocated an urban club whose role it will be to strengthen the existing links and structures that are currently in place.
“The urban clubs will not only provide guidance but also coaching sessions for the schools. In turn, the clubs should use the schools as their main area of recruitment. The parent club in turn must then provide support to the urban clubs in its jurisdiction.
“The formal link between the parent clubs and the urban clubs should help to address the imbalance which sometimes exists with the majority of the players from the four urban clubs playing with the one parent club,” the report states. Compiled by Cyril Lyons and the county games development manager, Seán Chaplin, the report was launched on Monday night at the West County Hotel. The meeting was attended by representatives of the four urban clubs, Éire Óg and the Banner and the national schools in the town.
In a foreword to the report, Ruan man Lyons said that 10 years after the setting up of an urban board with four new urban clubs, “a number of serious concerns need to be addressed”.
These include numbers at underage level not transferring to adult level, the standard the two adult clubs are playing has dropped and numbers playing at primary school in Ennis are significantly lower than for similar urban areas within the county.
To get an overview on the current position, the authors met teachers from the six primary schools in Ennis, the coaches (Gerry Fox and Ronan Keane), the urban clubs, the parent clubs and the games development association in Waterford City.
“Teachers in the schools believe in its value and are committed to the promotion of hurling. In many instances, they are working with little or no support outside of their own school.
“Participation levels vary from 75% to less than 10%. Strong competition exists from so many other sports/activities in Ennis. Soccer, football and rugby are three of the major competitors to hurling. There are many boys who only play hurling at school with no club involvement whatsoever. No structured or formalised links exist with the urban/parent clubs. In some cases, children who play with their schools have never trained or played with their local urban club. Some schools report having never seen or met club mentors,” states the new report.
The report adds that, at the moment, “There is no link between any of the parties in Ennis. There are a lot of people in various areas doing great work for the development of hurling in Ennis”.
The report highlights that in Waterford City parish rule does not exist, so the school one attends defines club identity. “There is a defined school-club programme where each club provides a coach to make 16 visits to the schools in its catchment area each year and matches the county board funding for each school.”
According to the new report, all short-term targets should be fully implemented by September 2010 aiming to have a strong and effective working relationship between the clubs and the schools. All medium-term targets – increasing participation numbers from under 30% to 50% to bring them in line with other urban areas and the Banner club to become an independent underage club at all grades is to be implemented fully by September 2011. The long-term targets including the Banner club to participate in higher grades, is to be reached by September 2014.
“My concern is that this will gather dust,” warned Cyril Lyons. “This should be a particular job given to a member of the county executive who will report to the county board monthly. If it doesn’t come from the top, it won’t happen.”
The representatives of the various groups present at Monday’s launch agreed to return to a further meeting on Monday, October 19, to discuss how best to proceed.