THE GAA is an invaluable asset to the country, but it is not always recognised as such or given credit for the great work it performs, Kilkenny GAA Board Convention was told.
Out-going chairman Paul Kinsella lauded the work of the GAA, suggesting no organisation has done more work for the youth of the country during a thought provoking annual address.
“Volunteers provide countless thousands of hours coaching the youth and providing playing facilities in every parish,” was the former school principal’s opening volley on the issue. “It would be impossible to put a value on the contribution made by the GAA volunteers over the last 127 years.”
This contribution should not be underestimated or under appreciated, the St Martin’s (Muckalee) official continued.
“It should be greatly valued by the many parents whose children’s lives have been enhanced by being involved in the GAA,” Mr Kinsella insisted. “Every grant received from Government by clubs is in recognition for the work done by members helping the youth of the country and enhancing every community as well.”
He reminded that on the playing side of things the formative years of all young players were most important in deciding their future participation in Gaelic games, particularly given the ever increasing number of alternative sporting and non-sporting options available.
“It follows then that the work that is ongoing at Bord-na-nOg and primary and secondary school level continues to be most important,” he said.
Kilkenny was fortunate, he said, to have so many dedicated people doing such great work in each of these areas.
“I compliment and thank each and every one of them,” he continued. “In recent years we introduced Development Squads and here again we are fortunate with the calibre of people involved.
“All of the work in these areas is being complimented by two outstanding coaches, Brián Ryan James Maher,” he added.
This year again Kilkenny reviewed the Development Squads system and programme, he revealed. The most up to date knowledge and information on all aspects of team preparations in areas like diet, hydration, physical development as well as skill coaching were now part of the programme.
“The full support of clubs is paramount if we are to succeed in delivering this programme whose objective is that players from under-14 to adult level at club and county level attain the highest possible standard,” Mr Kinsella said.
He acknowledged the work of Brendan O’Sullivan, Pat Henderson and the respective coaches for their work, and pledged the good efforts would continue.
Pick rather than elect people
Mr Kinsella said that such was the heavy workload on county officers now that a lot of things were being devolved to sub-committees, with things like fixtures and discipline being dealt with by the CCC, appeals by the Hearings Committee and so on.
“As most appointments at provincial and national level are job specific, we may now have to look at how we appoint our committees,” revealed the man who has first hand knowledge of the workings of the organisation from the ground up.
“It appears that members in the future may need particular knowledge and we may need to appoint rather than elect, particularly in areas such as finance, health and safety and even management,” Mr Kinsella suggested.
The culture of referee bashing was also referred to by the county’s newly elected Central Council delegate. Games couldn’t be played without referees, he reminded, so attitudes would have to change.
“All of us have a part to play in changing this culture whilst insisting that the highest possible standard of refereeing is achieved,” he felt. “I would ask our referees to work with us in this regard.”
Kilkenny was fortunate to have enough referees at the moment, but this could change if the approach of recruiting and training new officials did not continue.
“Clubs can play a big part in this by identifying and encouraging suitable people in their own clubs,” he suggested.
“These people can be identified by using them in training sessions and in juvenile tournaments,” he continued.
He thanked referees for helping the County Board organise over 2,000 games, and he asked them to trying and identify new recruits.