Shinrone Questions Place Big Spotlight On Offaly GAA Hurling Coaching Structures

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A MAJOR spot light was placed on the way in which Offaly underage hurling coaching and development squads are run at the February meeting of the Offaly GAA County Board last week.

A list of seven probing questions were posed by Shinrone GAA Club secretary Ger Maher, which queried several aspects of Offaly GAA's coaching and games structures, the running of development squads and a decision to replace the management of the U-15, U-16 and U-17 development squads.

Mr Maher questioned a decision to amalgamate the U-16 and U-17 development squads in 2017, pointing out that three mentors will now be over 62 players, which goes against best practice of a ratio of one coach to every eight players.

The Shinrone man stressed at the start that the questions were coming from his club and not him personally, as he had been a member of the development squads management.

After they were read out, chairman Tommy Byrne stated that the questions raised serious issues and would need serious consideration before being answered. He said the questions deserved that consideration and he promised to get a comprehensive reply as soon as possible.

Mr Maher stated: 'As a club that has supplied numerous coaches to County squads over the last number of years we have some serious concerns over recent happenings in Coaching and Games. We have seven questions which we wish to ask coaching and games and we would like the opportunity to ask all seven questions please.'


He asked the following questions.

1. Can you give us an update on the appointment of U-14, U-15, U-16 and U-17 Development squad team managements?

2. Can you explain the rationale behind the proposal in amalgamating the U-16 and U-17 development squads in 2017? There were 35 players on the 2016 U-16 squad and 34 players on the U-15 squad, that is 69 players in total. Approximately seven players from this group are now with the current minor squad leaving the new proposed three mentors to manage, coach and look after in or about 62 players. This goes against all national guidelines and all guidelines preached time and time again on coaching courses where best practise recommends a ratio of one coach to every eight players and you are proposing a ratio of one coach to approximately every 20 players. How does that make logical sense?

3. 2016 was the most successful year in over 20 years for underage hurling in this county, bringing home silverware at U-15 U-16 and U-17 and while we view this as only a stepping stone where winning was the cream on a bigger journey. Can you explain then what Tom Curran (Na Fianna), John Brady (Na Fianna), Tom Connors (Seir Kieran), Brendan Butler (Ferbane Belmont), Michael Cordial (Shinrone), Niall Gleeson (Kilcormac/Killoughey) and Gerard Maher (Shinrone) did so wrong that has resulted in them getting the sack and not being afforded the opportunity to further develop these squads in 2017? Was the progress made in 2015 and 2016 and the fact that silverware was won so bad? Can you please explain what these guys did wrong to deserve the treatment they are after getting?

4. At the January County Board meeting as a club we had some serious concerns over minutes circulated to every club in the county from the hurling implementation committee. When I asked could I ask some questions on these minutes the reply from the Chairman was and I quote, 'these are not official minutes and the people on that working group will have to be brought into the coaching and games committee.' To-date not a single name from that implementation committee has come before the board for ratification onto coaching and games. So can you please explain then why members of that implementation committee sat with members of coaching and games last Saturday week in Kilcormac in a box ticking exercise disguised as a coaching and games review and furthermore can you explain why it is the sole recommendations of the hurling implementation committee that have been accepted by coaching and games and it is these same views and recommendations that are now being implemented by coaching and games?

5. No one single member of the hurling implementation committee ever attended a training session, challenge game, blitz day or tournament that the U-15s played in and only one member attended a single day's hurling of the U-16 squad so can you please explain what makes their proposals and recommendations so credible when they know nothing of what went on last year either in the training field dressing room or on match days? Why do coaching and games feel they have to adopt these proposals?

6. Why when the intention was always to throw these men on the scrapheap are the County Board willing to fork out €150 per head for award two coaching courses for these same men knowing that they are now of no use to them?

7. The last question we have is a simple two part question requiring simple yes or no answers and bearing in mind all of this is happening on your watch. The questions go to every person on the top table. 1. Are you or have you been aware of this? And 2. Do you believe this is in the best interest of underage hurling in this county?


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