Professional commitment required to take Fermanagh teams forward

Cavan didn't shrink from calling on the services of our Peter Quinn when they wanted a outside opinion on how to develop GAA in their county.

Cavan didn’t shrink from calling on the services of our Peter Quinn when they wanted a outside opinion on how to develop GAA in their county.


Some people think that the world of coaching moves fast. It doesn’t really. Best practices are there to be found and there is always time to get ahead of the curve if you really want to.

What takes a long time is convincing enough people that these best practices need to be implemented. Money, time, resources and very often a complete unwillingness to accept change can all be barriers to getting in place what is needed.

On Monday night Fermanagh County Board held a Strategic Plan Workshop with one of the areas discussed youth coaching.

The clubs of the county have been asked to contribute to this plan and to be fair to the county board there hasn’t been a pile in the way of meaningful contributions. Save for a few notable exceptions we seem to be constrained by the chains of apathy. That doesn’t mean nothing can be done however. It simply means that the county must strive forward regardless of the lack of input from others.

So, what needs to be done? Here are three suggestions

1 – Review of Coaching (with outside presence)
For a few years now I have been arguing for the need to have a full review of our coaching structures, from under 6s right the way up to senior. Included in this is the necessity, I believe, for a person from outside the county to chair this review. This has nothing to do with a lack of faith in those of us who have been working as coaches within in the county, either in a paid capacity or with the clubs.

Instead the need for an outside hand is in order to help us arrive at the most comprehensive conclusion.

Sometimes being intimately involved in something can be a draw back and somebody with no ties or preconceived ideas is needed to move things in the right direction.

Getting help from somebody with no involvement with coaching within in the county is nothing to be ashamed of.

Cavan have done it, our own Peter Quinn the man they sought, and so have Tyrone. Both of those counties are more successful than Fermanagh yet didn’t feel their pride dented by asking others for their help. We need to do what is right for the county. If we don’t we run the risk of a review which will be afraid to ask all the questions that need asked. We have nothing to fear from a complete picture of where we stand. That will allow us to plot a path into the future.

2 – A commitment to youth
We need to accept that if we want to successfully bring our youth players through to senior level then we have to invest in them all the year round.

We need to constantly prepare players for the next level. To use an example let us take a 15-year-old in Fermanagh. He needs something to focus on 12 months of the year. He needs to feel part of Fermanagh GAA all of this time.

At that age, if not even younger, he should be learning about the principles of strength and conditioning. He should be doing body weight exercises and be learning the correct technique for weights exercises that he will be introduced to in the coming years. He should be working on his core.

And all of this is before he even gets a ball in his hand. Of course proper precautions should be taken that no over-training takes place and player burn-out is something that we need to be mindful of. But we can’t use the potential of burn-out as an excuse to cut back on what we provide our young people.

We have to be serious about a proper investment in our youth. We can no longer continue to make a net profit from our underage. We have to start being serious about spending money to ensure that they are coached, prepared and engaged 12 months a year.

The county senior team teams need investment too and I am not suggesting we rob Peter to pay Paul but with the added investment that Club Eirne will bring to the table we have to invest a significant portion of that money into our youth.

3 – Professional expertise
In order to ensure that we have the best structures in place for all our teams we need to ensure we have the correct professional expertise in place.

Over the last decade and half we have had various professional strength and conditioning coaches employed with the Fermanagh senior team.

As professionally qualified people it is only right that they are paid for their expertise but we are wasting our money only focusing that expertise on the senior team.

It is about time we thought about employing a strength and conditioning expert on a part time or perhaps even a full time basis who will work with our youth and our seniors. To some I know that may seem like an unnecessary expense but what we are doing now is ludicrous.

We need that expertise working with all our squads and ensuring that when all our players reach senior level they have a grounding and a base that means they are ready for inter-county action. That is not happening at present.


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