On Saturday, the country will tune into see what we hope will be another epic encounter as Clare play Cork in the All Ireland Hurling final replay. For many in Wexford, it will be a reminder of where are currently standing and what we are missing, Clare are in the All Ireland final while Wexford have not played in Croke Park in 6 years now…
Clare is a county which we often benchmark ourselves against, a county with a fierce passion for both hurling and football, a county who went decades in the wilderness, who like Wexford lit up the ‘90s and who seemed, until this year to be struggling to capitalise on that success.
Wexford getting left behind!
However it’s now clear that our fortunes have diverged, with success at u21 and on cusp of it at senior, Clare are marching ahead of Wexford. The question is why, what have they done differently?
The answer is found in how a number of Clare clubs have created vibrant links with the schools in their locality, nurturing talent, transforming their fortunes. One such club is Cratloe, not one of the traditional powers of Clare hurling, who through dedication and engagement with the schools in their catchment are today back boning the Clare senior hurling team!
Of course this is not rocket science and some clubs in Wexford are already working with their local primary schools, supporting the teaching staff. Oulart, with a school population of 270 children are a case in point, it’s this link which has enabled them to dominate hurling and camogie in Wexford for the last decade.
The ‘Ballymurn Model’
Other clubs are however taking note and in Ballymurn, one teacher, Willie Cleary has pioneered a structured approach to coaching, one which sees the local club, Crossabeg-Ballymurn providing volunteer coaches who come into the school twice a week, every week to impart the skills of the game in a fun environment. (See more about the ‘Ballymurn Model’)
We know this model works, we know it can be done and now, thanks to a generous donation from a supporter, Wexford GAA is now looking to see clubs around the county replicate it and is offering clubs/schools grants to purchase equipment and support to help them set up the necessary structures. The hope it that we could see 10-15 clubs joining in this ‘Hurling 365 – club/schools link initiative’ an approach that will see children playing hurling, under supervision, every week, growing their skills and love of the game. If we do this, there is no reason that Wexford can’t emulate the success of Clare while at the same time strengthening our clubs, supporting our schools and giving a new generation a love of hurling.
Is your club or child’s schools coming on board? If not why not? This is possibly the single most important and potentially transformative initiative in years. This could be the start of something extraordinary, setting your club on the road to success. Cratloe have shown that tradition means nothing. Applications are now being accepted from clubs/schools, make sure your club, your community, your children do not get left behind… Download the application form now.