Minor review findings disclosed
The eagerly awaited Minor hurling review and audit 2015 has claimed that the main barrier to a guaranteed improved performance at Minor level at the moment is the conflict between college, squad, club and county teams.
The working group of Michael O'Grady, Dave Bernie, Jim Bolger and the late Justin Prendergast, who had acted as Secretary up to his untimely death, has released the report to Wexford G.A.A.
It is a comprehensive review of the problems besetting the grade along with suggestions for implementing a more positive approach which is sure to lead to much debate.
In coming to their conclusion the working group felt that some young, talented players are obliged to play and train too often at certain times of the year, with one player having twelve games and nine training sessions this year in the month of March.
It was also stressed that the Minor management team this year had to wait until early April to have a full panel together to prepare for a championship game two weeks later, but losing to Kilkenny after extra-time was no disgrace.
However, the working group felt that a round of club championship games fixed for the Sunday, 24 hours after the Minors had played and lost to Westmeath, led to players becoming more focused on the club game than on the Westmeath game. It felt it was no way to prepare a team for a Leinster championship.
Now it's stressed that all those involved with these young players - clubs, colleges, county management teams and fixtures committees - must ensure that the players' welfare is central and the player must not be pressurised to play or train too often in a typical week.
Regarding Wexford's policy on dual players, it's felt that it has not brought any real success to either code. It is generally agreed now that it is not physically possible to maximise one's potential at both codes.
As a result the group suggests that dual players should be allowed on squad teams up to age 15. After that players should opt for one code only, as it will give other players a chance of representing their county.
It's also recommended that the Minor manager should get a three-year term subject to annual reviews; he should be part of the Under-16 and Under-17 management teams, while members of the management team should be involved with the Combined Colleges team, with ideally a teacher from St. Peter's College and from Good Counsel College to be part of the Minor management set-up.
The review also stipulated that the County Board should ensure all schools and colleges promoting Gaelic games are assisted with funding and any other help required; that only players who are no long involved with their colleges should be considered for the Leinster League; that there should be no dual players on the Minor hurling panel; that Wexford County Board should support the proposal to change the Minor age from Under-18 to Under-17; and that Wexford County Board should endeavour to get Leinster Minor championship games played on a Wednesday evening rather than on a Saturday, which would leave Sundays available for club games.
Issues of concern in the county led the review group to find fault with the failure of so many clubs to drive the Hurling 365 programme.
They were critical of the glut of fixtures at certain times of the year, and the management of the dual player. A fear was expressed that the unique Wexford hurling culture is diminishing, while the poor standard of hurling in many clubs and schools was noted.
While their main focus was on the Minor group, they also felt that it was time for the county to start acting on reports, recommending that an audit of previous reports be carried out and dealt with.
The quality of coaching was also commented upon, with many feeling that it had not been good enough, with more emphasis needed on first touch hurling and speed of though.
Members were also of the view that Hurling 365/Wexford G.A.A. promotes and supports the coming together of clubs and schools to provide weekly coaching for children, initiated by the hurling advisory committee and supported by the Wexford coaching and games development committee and the Rackard League committee, with the programme based on successful models in Kilkenny, Clare and Waterford.
The hurling advisory committee blueprint for Wexford hurling stated that: 'if we did nothing else extra for the next five years except to get the national school/club system up and running it would have a major positive impact'.
It also stated that Wexford and Kilkenny are hosting Féile na Gael in 2017 and this may show up how far behind Wexford clubs are.
It recommends that the County Board should make Wexford town a pilot project for a three-year period, with a full-time coach being appointed to work with all schools and clubs in the area chosen.