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Óráid ón gCathaoirleach

GAA
Óráid ón gCathaoirleach

Home rid n gCathaoirleach

January 17th, 2022

Pat Teehan Leinster Chairperson address to Leinster Convention 17th Jan 2022

When reflecting on the past year, an initial reaction might be to say that it was a disaster. I think the word difficult would be more appropriate. We were restricted and compromised in many areas of our work most notably with the lack of in-person meetings, reduced attendances at games, curtailment of infrastructure development and the delay to our extension of the GPO model to six remaining counties.

However, we are a games based organisation, and in that context, it has to be said that 2021 was a successful year. Not only did we get to complete our full programme of fixtures but we also got to complete the outstanding Championships from 2020. Full credit is due to all involved in ensuring our games programme was not curtailed in any way despite the ongoing and ever changing difficulties.

In his own report, Michael Reynolds has highlighted the outcomes of the various competitions so I dont intend to repeat that now, other than to congratulate all the winners of our various Championships.

However, I think from a Leinster viewpoint it was highly significant and worth mentioning the achievement of both Meath and Offaly in winning the Minor and U20 All-Ireland football titles. And while they may not have won any silverware, I do wish to commend the performances of Kildare underage hurlers who made giant strides at both Minor and U20 level in 2021.

Football Championship

Much of the last number of months has been taken up with a debate about the future of the Senior Football Championship and while change is not only inevitable it is also necessary. But we must be realistic and not expect that motions coming before Congress will have all the answers. I believe we will see change at the upcoming Congress, but I also believe that whatever proposal is accepted we can expect further changes in the coming years. For that reason I believe that we need to amend the Official Guide to allow Central Council have more flexibility when it comes to making necessary changes, changes that dont alter the substantive nature of a particular Rule. I would hope that Congress in 2023 will see the passing of a suitable motion that will allow for more flexibility in adjusting our Championships as required into the future

Provision of Games

As already mentioned we are a games based organisation and the provision of games, especially for our club players, must be our Number One priority. An analysis of recent developments and initiatives by Comhairle Laighean throws up some very interesting findings. Before the implementation of the Leinster cross county leagues in 2016, only three counties, in the Province, provided playing activity for their underage players before St Patricks Day. The introduction of U13 & U15 cross county leagues has resulted in over 800 additional games being staged annually across the Province.

This has also resulted in a demand within counties for additional games. The result is that whereas in 2016 an underage player might expect to get 8 games in his grade, across league and Championship, pre knockout, that has now jumped to an average of 11 games per grade with this activity spanning late February / early March and concluding in late October/ early November. We must also remember the majority of players dont make school or representative teams, so a good club games programme is vital so that every young player gets sufficient activity to maintain their interest and enjoyment of our games.

Go Games in the u7-u11 age group has also grown with most clubs now enjoying 7-10 game days in the majority of counties compared to only 5-7 game days in 2016

With the split season, there is now an even greater opportunity for counties to tailor their fixtures to ensure an even better games programme for both adult and underage players.

Games Development

Another fundamental element of our Associations activities is to ensure that every child is introduced to our games and gets an opportunity to experience and play them. This is not an easy goal to achieve, however, I do believe that, in this Province the curve is constantly moving in an upward trajectory. Since 2015 we have increased our games staff, outside of Dublin, from 44 to 99, and this number will continue to grow as we recruit staff for Carlow, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford and Kilkenny, counties that were not part of previous projects. By increasing the number of Games Promotion Officers in our counties we release our Games Development Administrators to spend more time in clubs which dont have a requirement for a full-time GPO.

In this regard I wish to commend the excellent work being done by all of our Games Development staff across the Province, under the expert guidance of our Games Managers, Alan Mulhall and James Devane.

It is important to point out that the appointment of GPOs to clubs follows a very considered process. In each case, our Games Managers, Alan and James carry out a rigorous audit of the club, or group of clubs, to determine their requirements and consider what solution would be the best fit in their case. In some instances this may be a GPO, but in many cases a GPO is not the answer and so other supports are tailored to best address the specific needs of the club or clubs. I would also point out that analysis of the GPO model across the Province has shown that in the appropriate clubs, participation rates have increased and contrary to what might be believed, the number of volunteers willing to assist has also increased.

The comments of the Chairperson of Eire g Greystones at his clubs AGM in 2021 could be echoed across the Province, when he stated that One of the better appointments of this or any other year has been the appointment of a GPO. The club along with Leinster GAA through James Devane, have facilitated the appointment and I have nothing but the highest regard for the work he has put in, from providing training for the national and secondary schools in the locality, assisting with the nursery, coaching our young referees an area we have been lacking in over the years, running coaching courses along with the county GDA and what I consider to be the single biggest initiative for the Club enrolment in the Dermot Early Youth Leadership Initiative award. This provides Transition Year students with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, attain a third level award while still in TY and will go a long way to those involved securing their Gaisce award. I have no hesitation in saying I will be proposing to the incoming committee that we should be planning now for the addition of a second GPO as a priority.

He also states that membership has increased by almost 50 in just 12 months and the club has a record number of volunteer coaches.

The whole area of Games Development and Promotion in the Association has been a huge success. To maintain this success and effectiveness it is important to constantly review the elements that make it work so that they can evolve and become even better.

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