Eight-time All-Ireland senior hurling medal winner Michael Fennelly and nine of Ireland’s finest male and female inter-county stars graduated from the Accreditation Pathway for the Jim Madden Leadership Gaelic Players Association (GPA) Programme at a special ceremony in Maynooth University on Friday.
The programme is designed to develop crucial leadership skills among inter-county Gaelic football, hurling, ladies football and camogie players which they can draw on in their personal, sporting and professional lives as well as in their communities.
This is the first year that students from this programme have had access to formal accreditation via Maynooth University and this year’s graduates include many of the GAA’s leading lights such as Waterford’s three-time hurling All-Star Noel Connors as well as Mayo football duo Tom Parsons and Jason Doherty and Derry dual star Chrissy McKaigue.
The Jim Madden GPA Leadership Programme is individually tailored to athletes performing at an elite level, with each student working with a professional life coach, addressing their development needs and helping them reach their personal goals.
Those participating in the Maynooth accreditation pathway have access to academic staff and resources, and qualification leads to the awarding of a Level 9 Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Leadership. As part of the accreditation pathway with Maynooth, university staff work with students to further develop their leadership capabilities and to explore the role of sustainable leadership within communities.
Students are required to engage with local communities through work with primary schools as part of the Réalta Programme while also taking part in workshops that focus on personal development, interpersonal and group skills in which they identify their strengths and weaknesses and find their own personal style of leadership.
Leadership masterclasses are provided in which students explore the critical behaviours, attributes and capabilities required to unlock their full potential as future leaders. These masterclasses are given by experts from the business and sporting world and community activists.