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Former Offaly goalkeeper Alan Mulhall works as a Provincial Games Manager for Leinster GAA.
Former Offaly goalkeeper Alan Mulhall works as a Provincial Games Manager for Leinster GAA.

Mulhall delighted with TURAS programme success story

By Cian O’Connell

Two years ago Leinster GAA unveiled the TURAS programme in an effort to provide a coherent approach to player development.

The manner in which clubs have adopted the methods and structures suggested is a source of significant pride.

While on field activity cannot take place currently due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Alan Mulhall, one of Leinster GAA’s Provincial Games Managers is delighted by how clubs continue to embrace new ideas.

“You have loads of webinars and different workshops being developed and being put online,” former Offaly goalkeeper Mulhall says.

“A huge volume of people are signing up which is great. The big thing we are pushing is the TURAS programme in the clubs and we are finding there is a huge buy in on that. The staff are individually making contact with the clubs they are working for, they are going in doing the TURAS sessions online.

“You could have 10, 15, 20 people from the one club all coming on doing that session whenever they do them. The likes of Mairead Daly did one in Edenderry, Liam Reilly did one with St Vincent's (Offaly), the Kildare boys are all doing them, the Meath lads, they are being done all over the place. People are actually doing the TURAS programme online effectively.

“A coach development programme which is developing all of the coaches, educating them, and the best thing about it is people are doing it with their own club mates and club people.

“They feel a lot more comfortable and there is a lot of interaction. The webinars we are doing with big numbers, they are brilliant for getting information out there, but these ones we are finding huge interaction with.”

Considering players and coaches are unable to train, Mulhall accepts it is an ideal opportunity to evolve.

Alan Mulhall in action during the 2017 All Ireland Senior Football Championship.
Alan Mulhall in action during the 2017 All Ireland Senior Football Championship.

“That is what we are finding,” Mulhall responds. “During the year we are pushing people to be out and about, out working with clubs. Sometimes clubs are just so busy because they have trainings on and different matches.

“So it can be hard to get a slot on the pitch or a slot in the hall if you want to do workshops. Now there has been a bit of a pause on it so everyone is looking to upskill, to educate themselves.

“It isn't in their normal downtime when they would in the winter, people switch off, but engage a little bit with coach education. People are very hungry for information now at the minute, they want to be ready to get back to hit the ground running.”

Leinster GAA coaching staff continue to adapt and embrace new ways of delivering workshops and assisting clubs. It is critical to the process according to Mulhall.

“James Devane and myself are the Provincial Games Managers, James has six counties, I have five, and Dublin work their own model under Ger O'Connor,” Mulhall remarks.

“James and I sit down with the lads looking at their regions; Colm Clear puts in place a training programme for the staff. There is continuous personal development, especially over the winter months when things might be a little quieter and there mightn't be as much activity.

“We do a lot of staff upskilling, they all would be skilled up on the different programmes we have to deliver. There is major focus on the TURAS, particularly focusing on the new full club model where you are looking at the whole club.”

The TURAS programme is viewed as vital for the long term development of coaching in Leinster GAA.

“We have brought in all of the staff to train them up on the TURAS programme, the way it works then is the staff all have their own regions,” Mulhall explains.

The TURAS programme has worked well for Leinster GAA.
The TURAS programme has worked well for Leinster GAA.

“Some of them might only have one club, others could have six or seven clubs. It is all broken down into regions and the member of staff is responsible for delivery of the TURAS workshop at each age group in your own region.

“You are also responsible for doing the overall TURAS programme with each of your clubs. From that you do your club session, your age appropriate workshop, and then you do your club visits.

“Obviously we can't do it at the minute, but the big thing for the TURAS programme is to be able to follow up, to stand with a coach shoulder to shoulder to advise a coach on the pitch, to help them out there.”

Mulhall stresses the value of these on field sessions. “It is all about participant feedback, creating the environment for players to develop,” Mulhall adds.

“When we are working off the TURAS principles with the coaches out on the field it is a great tool to reflect back to see are the drills testing and challenging? Are they part of the game? All of the different elements of the programme.

“What we are finding now is clubs are engaging with their own GDAs because that is the way the relationship is developed. People nearly consider the coaches part of their own staff because they are so closely working with them.

“They'd be contacting them and have a full TURAS club session where you look at what is appropriate and what environment do the club want to build from nursery all the way up to adult or Under 17. Those workshops are working out very well online.”

During the past decade Mulhall has been struck by the manner in which clubs have become increasingly organised and aware of the scope that exists to offer assistance.

“Definitely, there is a huge appetite out there for learning,” Mulhall admits. “People used to coach years ago by just remembering what they did themselves or what they were coached. There was nearly a mentality that you couldn't be a coach if you hadn't played.

Alan Mulhall is encouraged by the reaction to Leinster GAA's TURAS programme.
Alan Mulhall is encouraged by the reaction to Leinster GAA's TURAS programme.

“Now there is so much education that new people and even new people into the GAA are getting involved. People are learning from scratch and they are bringing a whole new dynamic to it too. They are making everyone else look at it in a different way and to what is appropriate.

“Instead of training everyone as little adults we are training children appropriately at their own age and what is relevant to them when they are in a nursery and the differences then as you should be seeing when you get to nine, 12, 14, and so on.”

A couple of years into the TURAS programme Mulhall is adamant that the project is motoring well with the emphasis being placed on club activity.

“It is very well known, the fact that we are striving to have five or six clubs for each GDA and less if possible,” Mulhall comments.

“The practice a good few years ago was that a GDA could have 14 or 15 clubs, everything was done centrally. When you are doing stuff centrally people might go to Hawkfield, Faithful Fields or Ferns where people might go.

“If you are able to do it and get out into a club, to do it in their backyard, more people will come. Instead of having a workshop with 20 people all coming to a central venue, you might be in a situation where you have six or eight coaches from the one club going. It might be small numbers, but you get so much interaction and engagement there.

“That is a big thing for us. Getting out into the clubs and continuing it online, you are delivering webinars to clubs individually.

“It gets them in their own comfort zone where they can be comfortable and interact with their own coaches and friends, not just being a number in a bigger scheme.”

The highly regarded Mulhall continues to plan and plot alongside innovative colleagues eager to ensure the next generation of hurlers and footballers receive the right guidance.

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