ANNOUNCEMENT Mike Connelly
ONE County Board delegate has hailed the new Mayo GAA coaching initiative as ‘the most positive step I’ve seen taken at a County Board meeting in 40 years’.
Peter Geraghty (Swinford) was speaking after County Board chairman Mike Connelly revealed plans to employ four coaches in Mayo.
Funding had, the chairman told last Tuesday’s County Board meeting, been secured from Mayo County Council, and a notice seeking two additional Games Promotion Officers was circulated last week.
Connelly revealed that the county will be ‘broken up into four regions’ which, because of differences in population, will not exactly correspond with the existing divisions – North, South, East and West Mayo. Details of the regions were being finalised and the structures envisaged should be ready by the time Board officers meet with club chairpersons and secretaries later this month.
“We need to be conscious of the numbers,” the chairman told delegates. “For example, in South Mayo there’s 2,500 kids between the ages of five and 12, and if you go to the West Board area, you’re talking about 5,500 … We have to be fair to everyone.”
Coaches would, he added, head up development squads within their region, recruit personnel to support them with development squads, be involved in coaching courses, manage Cúl Camps and work with schools. He stressed that he wanted clubs to play ‘a big part’ in the initiative.
“It’s a big investment for us,” Connelly added. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of this, because this is something that really needs to be done. You talk to other counties, [like] the Kilkennys of this world, and when you see what they’re doing, you can understand why they’re at the top level …
“We want to have a top-class coaching operation in the county, and ... we will [hopefully] see the fruits of it … in six or eight or ten years’ time. That’s the wish.”
The proposal comes five years after the Mayo GAA Draft Strategic Action Plan (published in February 2011) called for the creation of a full-time, paid position of Director of Football Coaching. This was one of many ‘key recommendations’ not included in the final Strategic Plan eventually approved by delegates later that year.