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Kilkenny hurling coach Michael Dempsey is the chairman of the Talent Academy and Player Development Work Group.
Kilkenny hurling coach Michael Dempsey is the chairman of the Talent Academy and Player Development Work Group.

Talent Academy and Player Development Work Group established

The GAA has begun a process of reviewing the GAA youth /player development pathway at inter-county level and its relationship with clubs, post-primary schools and third level institutions.

Uachtarán CLG John Horan has set up an expert panel containing extensive inter-county playing and coaching experience, and chaired by Michael Dempsey, former Laois footballer and multi All-Ireland winning coach with the Kilkenny senior hurling team.

The focus of this group is to ensure that best practice is being followed in developing talented young players from the age of Under 13 upwards to Under 20 football and hurling.

It is expected to make recommendations that ensure that there is a holistic player pathway in place in the development of young players in every county; that there is a club centered approach that does not create an elitist mindset from a young age and also makes player welfare a priority.

The group have held a number of preparatory meetings and will now spend the next few weeks meeting various stakeholders at county level with the responsibility of developing talented players via four provincial meetings.

A survey conducted with parents of players in underage squads will also be conducted to gauge the effect their involvement is having on their lives off the field.

It is hoped to have a draft report ready before the end of this year and propose recommendations to the GAA’s Games Development Committee with regard to updating policy in line with the review recommendations.

Uachtarán CLG John Horan said: “It gives me great pleasure to see this Work Group commence what will be a hugely beneficial and very timely project for the Association.

“As part of my inaugural address last February I expressed concerns that I had about the current state of our underage development squads and academies.

“As someone who has had a lifelong involvement at club, school and county level in working with underage teams and young players, I have seen the danger posed when these squads and young players are fixated on elitism, when players are kept away from their clubs, and also the negative impact on players who were part of a squad for a time but were released and left feeling like failures before they had begun their adult playing careers.

“The proper development of young players is an investment in the future well-being of our Games. This is a high caliber Work Group and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their endeavours.”

Talent Academy & Player Development Work Group Members

Michael Dempsey (Chairman, Laois)

Jenny Duffy (Secretary, Cork)

Jeffrey Lynskey (Galway)

Jason Sherlock (Dublin)

Shane Flanagan (Leinster GAA, Kildare)

Dr. Eugene Young (Ulster GAA, Derry)

Ray O'Brien (Third Level, Kerry)

Garrett Coyle (Ulster Post-Primary Schools, Monaghan)

Brian Cuthbert (Cork)

Fergal O'Donnell (Roscommon)

Jamesie O'Connor (Clare)

Terms of Reference

(a) To conduct a review of the GAA player development pathway at inter-county level and its relationship with clubs, post-primary schools and third level institutions. This review is inclusive of U13 schools of excellence, talent academies (u14-u16), minor (u17) and u20 age-groups and applies to hurling and football.

(b) To consult with key stakeholders as required including but not limited to Players, Coaches, Parents, Clubs, Games Development Personnel, Coaching Officers, County Executives, Provincial Councils, Post Primary Schools, Post Primary School Committee, Higher Education Committee and County Coistí na nÓg.

(c) To report to GDC on the findings of the review.

(d) To propose recommendations to GDC with regard updating policy in line with our review recommendations.

The review will include, but is not limited, to the following:

* Establish purpose and vision for inter-county player development programme from Under 13-20.

* Coherence between club, county, post-primary and third level activity including games programmes.

* Resources committed by counties i.e. financial, gear, equipment etc.

* Governance, Leadership and ability to embrace and to comply with our own best practice models.

* Coach recruitment, development and retention practices.

* Player selection and development practices.

* Management of player lifestyle and welfare.

* Competitions, games and coaching programme.

* Examine competitions, games and coaching programmes to check for compliance with our own best practice models.

These terms of reference are proposed under the premise that the player pathway includes clubs, post primary schools, talent academies, 3rd level and inter-county age grades.

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