Salthill GAA Club put new spin on defining successAugust 3, 2012 - 7:00am
SALTHILL/Knocknacarra GAA Club recently published an impressive blueprint for juvenile football in the locality – a study that bravely defines success not by the number of cups and trophies secured but the numbers playing the sport through the grades.
Charged with chairing the progressive committee that composed the blueprint was successful businessman and former Mayo Gaels senior footballer John Daly, a SKGAA club member who has been living in Galway City for the past 20 years.
While the perimeters of the document focused on boy’s juvenile football, Daly – who sold the hugely successful John Daly Food Ltd. in 2006 to Dairygold and now owns Irelandfoods.ie, which sells chicken and milk and employs 14 people – insists there is a strong emphasis in the report on creating “an all-inclusive, welcoming, fun and safe club where each child reaches his or her own potential”.
Interestingly, when it has come to winning West Board and County titles at the underage grades, Salthill/Knocknacarra are generally there or thereabouts. So, to the outside observer, it is somewhat surprising that the City kingpins felt the need to take their underage structure in a new direction.
However, according to Daly, while Salthill/Knocknacarra may be the biggest juvenile club in the county, that, in itself, presents its own challenges and it, too, must address the same many issues that other clubs also have to contend with on a yearly basis, such as the drop off in numbers after Féile, the role of the social player and enticing parents and volunteers to take an active role in the club.
Against such a background, Club Chairman David Burke “called everyone together one night and he asked how can we improve and get better?” outlines Daly. “He (Burke) is a very innovative Chairman and a great guy.”
In addition to Daly, the committee included Brian Muldoon (Juvenile Chairman), PJ Kelly, Denise Royliston, Dolores Thompson, Martin Mannion, Rory O Griofa, Mike Culhane, Norman Costello and Donal O’Connell while among those to attend that initial meeting was Gaelic football legend Liam Sammon and current Galway senior boss Alan Mulholland.
Along with harnessing this wealth of knowledge, the committee also looked at GAA and Connacht Council websites to garner ideas. “We looked at everything and, indeed, that is where we came up with the idea of a coaching booklet.
“The standard GAA book is almost [compiled on] the Kerry way, so this blueprint is the Salthill way. Fair enough, you can get all the coaching tips you need on the GAA website, but most people never look at it. So, in doing this, we were not trying to reinvent the wheel but rather package it in a Salthill wrapping. And you can see that in the coaching tips recommended by Liam Sammon.”
Over the ensuing weeks and months after that initial meeting, a host of issues were addressed. “One issue was that no one was coaching the coaches but, not only that, if you were coaching the U-8s, you were often there for life, which can be a bad thing . . . or a good thing, depending on the coach. I suppose, it’s like having a teacher in a one-teacher school. Of course, it is great if she is good, but if she is bad, you’re finished.”
Indeed, the whole subject of coaching commanded a great deal of time and the merit of having a parent with a child in a squad coaching that team was discussed at nausea. While the committee agreed it was desirable not to have a parent involved, they also conceded this is not always realistic.
Another facet to this debate was the presumption that if a mentor was training a team at one grade, they would be expected to move up with that group of players to the next level the following year or so. “We never really had a review of this so it is going to be set up that we will have a review of managements every year and see does he (current manager) want to stay on in the position.”
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.