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Review sought of Clare’s underage hurling teams

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*Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Clare’s underage hurling teams are not matching their football counterparts, an East Clare delegate has stated.

An appeal for Clare GAA to set up an independent body to study “how our underage development squad system is operated” and to report back on necessary improvements “to ensure we are operating at the highest level required,” formed a proposal from Tulla GAA club.

It was requested that the body be established immediately with a report to be concluded no later than 30th June 2021 to allow any recommendations be in place for the 2022 season.

Speaking at the County Convention, Tulla’s Brian Torpey insisted that the motion was “very straight forward, we are looking for a review of our underage hurling structure”.

“They are flying it at underage in football,” the former primary school principal said of the performances of Clare’s gaelic footballers.

At minor level, Clare have contested Munster Finals in football three times in the last four years, coming up short on each occasion, during this same time-frame the minor hurlers have lost two provincial deciders. Clare last tasted provincial success at minor level in 2011 for hurling and 1953 for football. Managed by Brian Coffey, Clare’s U15 hurlers won the Arrabawn hurling tournament in 2018, no equivalent wins have been recorded by the footballers in recent years.

Torpey stated that Clare hasn’t “half-enough” the adequate amount of Games Development Officers. “We don’t have a strength and conditioning coach in situ and one needs to be appointed immediately. Physically we are losing out. It is imperative that we have a review”.

A strength and conditioning coach was in place up until the outbreak of COVID-19, outgoing Chairperson Joe Cooney responded. He told the meeting that he had spoken with the secretary of Tulla GAA club on the motion, their conversation came to the conclusion that Torpey would be willing to help with the review which Cooney welcomed as “great” and suggested he sit down with the Coaching & Games Officer.

Independence was a key aspect of the request, Torpey responded to which Cooney said that conversations with Bord na nÓg and the coaching officer would be essential, “it is important to see how ye would work together”.

“Who is the we,” Torpey questioned in reply. “Of course I’m willing to help, I have never refused helping Clare GAA. I am looking for independent body to help out”. Cooney questioned the Tulla official, “can you organise the independent body or bodies” and Brian clarified, “I’m asking Clare GAA to do it”.

An “amount of time” is already being invested by Clare GAA into underage, Cooney flagged. “I can tell you Clare GAA are doing a lot. Our coaching officers are putting an amount of time into it. You working with them to put that body in place would be important. It is very difficult to get people for the roles”. Torpey observed, “That is very clear”.

Irish and Cultural Officer, Flan O’Reilly told the meeting, “the word independent is being used a lot tonight. Independent of who or what? It is an independent republic almost being looked for”. He cited three motions which included the wording. “Why is it used on an independent basis. Is it a criticism of Clare GAA. They may be justified criticisms. We will have independent people giving us all the answers in a voluntary body. We know the questions,” the Cratloe clubman commented.

Tulla’s representative responded, “I am part of Clare GAA. I’m very proud of the work Clare GAA are doing. The greatest strength we could have is to hold a mirror up to ourselves and see how we are getting on. We need to know what our strengths are and what we need to work on”.

Cooney conclued, “We have to appreciate what present people are doing”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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