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21 Jan 2022

OPINION: Essential that Limerick GAA don't rest on their laurels - Jerome O'Connell

New Limerick minor hurling management revealed

LIMERICK GAA chairman John Cregan was forthright in his plea when addressing the clubs of the county at Annual Convention before Christmas.

“Now is the time to address deficiencies that may exist and if we do not do that we will quickly find ourselves losing our competitiveness in the years ahead. If we allow competitiveness level to drop our chances of success will also drop,” outlined the County Board chairman.

And, how correct he is. 

For all the success and enjoyment all are getting from following John Kiely’s senior hurlers at present, it must be remembered they are one of six inter-county GAA teams across hurling and football and that’s not to mention the club game and the many other aspects of Limerick GAA.

‘Strike while the iron is hot’ is the adage that best fits for Limerick GAA as all enter 2022.

The 2018-2021 era must be more than just a glittering list of silverware and memories when all look back in a decade or more.

The chance to lay solid foundations for years to come simply cannot be ignored.

It’s an opportunity for every club across Limerick to ride the current wave of success by the senior hurlers. Unfortunately Covid-19 public health restrictions have dominated almost two years now and this has hindered development aspirations of many strands of the GAA but still much can be done to ensure a bright future.

With all that in mind, just this week came the publication of a landmark survey into coaching.

And, it was good to see that the GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association joined forces to conduct the survey.

The Coaching and Coach Education in Gaelic games survey was supported with assistance from a number of Third Level College including Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College.

Former Limerick senior football goalkeeper Richard Bowles was on the survey advisory group. The Oola man is a Physical Education Lecturer within the Faculty of Education in Mary Immaculate College. His research interests include the impact of external personnel on the teaching of PE in primary schools, the use of self-study approaches in teaching, teacher education and sports coaching, and the facilitation of coaches’ learning within communities of practice.

The new survey, based on the responses from more than 10,400 participants, paints a clear picture of the volume of work being undertaken by volunteer coaches.

The aim of the research was to collect population data about the coaching workforce across all levels of Gaelic games participation to inform coach development policy, implementation, and management at National, Provincial, County, School and Club levels.

So what was learned... 

The coaches that participated in this survey were predominantly male (79%), aged between 25 – 54 (85.7%), and experienced, with 89.8% having more than five years coaching experience.

Almost 40% coach two or more GAA codes and a significant majority of coaches engage in coaching on multiple days each week (78.3%).

In terms of time spent, coaches are spending on average seven and a half hours a week on their commitment to coaching – which can rise to on average an additional nine hours on match weeks.

An overwhelming majority of the respondents consider future learning to be important to their coaching (94.6%), with 71.2% of respondents ‘Quite Likely’ or ‘Extremely Likely’ to undertake some form of coach education in the next 12 months. 

From a Limerick point of view, Coaching the Coaches is thankfully a mainstay of development plans for a number of years, but these survey results can act as a timely reminder of the hugely important role of volunteers and where assistance can be provided.

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