Celtic Challenge Coaching Corner - Paul Divilly
By Damian Lawlor
Paul Divilly has spent 13 years playing for Kildare Senior Hurlers. Divilly works as a Hurling Development Officer in Kildare and is one of those involved in overseeing the County’s 2018 Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge squad. Paul is currently preparing for the upcoming Christy Ring Cup Final.
Q. What have preparations been like for Kildare’s 2018 Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge squad?
*A. *We have a big minor squad of 42 including 16 players on the Celtic Challenge panel. A squad of 26 was named for the first round of the Leinster minor Championship and from there we fielded a team of 16 players in the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge.
Q. There is much talk of a hurling revival in Kildare, can you tell us more?
A. The people in Naas have done very well at juvenile level and worked up from there. They play some competition in Kilkenny and Naas CBS, for example, showed well in the Colleges’ Championship this year too. In recent years this has helped Kildare. Two years ago, the U.14 Development Squad in Hurling reached the Sonny Walsh Final, beating Tipp, Clare, and Laois along the way in that competition. Seven clubs were represented on the U.15 panel that year, so it is starting to spread around the county.
Q. What is it like dealing with players of this age?
A. Well, we put as much thought into developing the person as much as the player. With the underage squads, through the Dermot Earley Leadership Programme, we might have the players in our meeting rooms as much as on the pitch, practising presentations and giving talks. It all helps them develop. Their academic careers are very important to us. We make sure that no player with exams looming is over-burdened.
Q. From a coaching perspective, what is the key message?
A. Players are not puppets on the end of a string. They should be able to go out and play with their heads up, make their own calls, and show creativity. They need to make mistakes and learn from that themselves. They don’t need lads on the line roaring in at them.
Q. Is it hard trying to promote hurling in a football-mad county?
A. Both codes are being treated the same at ground level, in terms of finances, support. There is a new model in that we are trying to develop the coaches to, in turn, develop the players. I would say that hurling definitely has a great chance in this county and it is in a strong position.