THE setting up of a development squad structure in 2010 is the first step in a long-term initiative and will be revised on an ongoing basis and adjustments made where necessary.
That’s according to outgoing Bord na nÓg hurling chairman Sean O’Halloran, who paid tribute to the steering committee when he delivered his annual address to delegates at the convention in the Auburn Lodge Hotel, Ennis, last week.
“Seventy coaches were recruited and trained, comprising ex-inter-county players and club coaches and they deserve great credit for their work. The focus on development squads, however, restricted the preparation of our underage teams but they all performed well without bringing home any silverware, with the ultimate aim being to have county minor and U-21 teams that will regularly compete for Munster and All-Ireland honours. The structure was given a timely boost by the achievements of this year’s minor team,” the Bodyke man told the delegates.
“As a pre-requisite to achieving success on a regular basis, we need to do some forward planning similar to the already mentioned development squad system. This would take the form of a development plan that would have clear visions and targets. This is not a criticism of our existing structures, in fact, the contrary may be the case, as such a plan would identify the positive work already being done. Ideally, it would involve a large degree of consultation with and participation by county board, Bord na nÓgs, camogie, ladies’ football and handball clubs. Discussion topics would include fixtures, playing facilities, integration, identity, communication and market share and there would be a clear focus on where we are now and where we want to be in five years time. Such a plan would incorporate much of the Munster and county strategic plan that this board made a submission to during the year,” Mr O’Halloran added.
The chairman added a strong recommendation that a detailed financial plan would be put in place to ensure the proposed dream would become a reality and not an aspiration.
According to the outgoing chairman, who has served on the board for the past 12 years, “only the passing of time will inform us if the concept of re-structuring the U-12 championship to a non-competitive league format will have the desired effect”.
The chairman acknowledged that during his time on the board he had overseen many changes, especially in relation to competitions. “We now have competitions from U-8 to minor and this has necessitated facilitating the many demographic changes that have taken place in the rural and urban areas. It has demanded synchronisation of fixtures with senior board and Bord na nÓg Peil. The introduction of an annual fixtures booklet paved the way for better communication and facilitation of clubs and players,” he said.
Ackknowledging his fellow officers, O’Halloran said, “Our duties as officers dictate that unpopular decisions have to be taken at times but my policy and guiding star has always been the promotion and development of underage hurling without fear or favour. The workload is often challenging but always rewarding and my focus has been the positive rather than the negative.”
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this board’s foundation, I have been greatly honoured to have followed in the footsteps of my fellow clubman, Fr James Minogue, the first chairman of this board. As we move into the second decade of this millennium, I have no doubt that the dream of being in Croke Park with Clare teams on All-Ireland final day will be much more frequent,” he concluded.