Dual challenge calls for a split?

New blog from An Fear Beag about the challenge facing dual clubs and players.

A key to St Martin’s football success:

In post match interviews, after winning their first Senior Football title ever, a number of St Martin’s players and officials pointed to their early exit from the hurling championship as being a decisive factor in their Senior Football Championship success.  They explained how this gave them seven weeks to focus purely on football something which they credited with setting them up for ultimate success.   DSC_0310

Looking at the evidence it certainly appears that focusing on one code at the business end of the season pays dividends with Oulart dominating hurling for the past 5 years while in football we’ve had Anne’s, Horeswood, Castletown and Kilanerin all claiming honours in years there progress in hurling ended early.  It seems that the odds are stacked against our dual clubs.
10,000 hours to acquire a skill:

Research shows that it takes about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill, be it playing the violin, computer programming, hurling or football and that the biggest factor in success is not innate talent or blind luck, but rather dedication to a chosen craft. Accepting this how can we in Wexford expect our minor hurlers to complete with their counterparts in Laois, Kilkenny, Cork, Clare and Waterford where they focus on developing either hurling or football?

In counties like Waterford, Tipperary, Laois, Cork, Galway they have distinct hurling and football areas and at club level this means that a typical player in one of these counties is racking up probably twice the amount of games in hurling or football to a comparable player is a Wexford club.

So while every second week, our lads have to drop the hurls and pick up footballs their counterparts in Waterford will be training twice as much, playing twice as many games, will have more time for challenge games, this non-stop dedication will over time give the player with greater focus an advantage.

It’s not rocket science- if Nadal were to play two weeks tennis and two weeks cricket he would not be among the best in the world, same if Johnny Sexton were to kick a rugby ball for a fortnight and then kick a soccer ball he would not be at the top of his game!

Split season?
The simmering tension in Wexford which divides along hurling and football fault lines has of late subsided as an uneasy truce is observed. This is to be welcomed but we should not take the peace for granted and should use it to start a dialogue and to seek to construct a ‘Wexford solution to this Wexford problem.’ Would a split season, mirroring that at intercounty at minor and U-21 be of benefit?  Would such a solution enable more clubs to follow St Martin’s lead and make a serious challenge for championship titles in both codes. Would it remove the advantage that some clubs enjoy due to a predominant focus on one code – either by design or an early unplanned exist from the championship?

We all want to maximise the success of our intercounty teams and our clubs and to meet the needs of players and facilitate their development and enjoyment. However in the ultra competitive sporting environment that exists in Wexford, we need our elite teams to be performing and winning or Wexford GAA will lose ground to soccer and rugby so success really is not optional for the organisations long term health in Wexford. Coaching needs to be right, finances need to be right and structures, including how we deal with the demands of hurling and football needs to be right if we are to deliver on the potential within the county.

We need to step back and take a cold hard look at the facts, can Wexford players who split their attention as we currently demand, consistently compete and succeed against specialists, the evidence would suggest not and the question is what do we do about it? Maybe a split season would be a workable solution?