Talent Academy Programme survey ad WEB

Wexford GAA Talent Academy Programme & Root and Branch review Survey

At the 14th August Coiste Bainistí meeting it was agreed to conduct a root and branch review of development squad activities. Further to this, a series of meetings and a detailed analysis has been conducted. It has been considered that the performances of squads from U-14 to U-17 have been below average in 2017, we have not been competitive in many grades across both codes with more concentration on skill levels required.

We now seek feedback from clubs and attach a short survey which we would appreciate if you could circulate within your club contact list. Please click following link:  Wexford GAA Talent Academy survey

One of our key findings to date is that we need an overall agreed policy and a clear set of principles for all involved. Below is a draft which we would welcome feedback on so as to ensure a consensus among all stakeholders.

Wexford GAA has increased it’s spend on Development Squads in 2017 by approximately 15% and intends to further increase spend in 2018. However the primary focus is to ensure a quality system that puts a focus on excellence in player development. The topic of Talent Academies will be an agenda item at our County Board meeting next week.


“Vision for the Wexford GAA Talent Academies

To develop and prepare highly skilled young players to play for Counties and the broader Club and School Game, supported by an effective, well trained group of coaches and other personnel, delivered within a strong partnership of County Boards, Clubs and Schools”
Principles of the Wexford GAA Talent Academies

  • Talent Academies will continue to be about developing players rather than focusing on winning current games.
  • Identifying talented players is a key component of academies and must be a continuous process throughout all stages of the academy process. Coaches should focus on each players’ potential rather than simply their current performance.
  • The utilisation, nurturing and development of quality coaches is a priority for the academy process
  • Progress within the system is not guaranteed but players who commit to the process must be better players as a result of their time in the process
  • Any player who is excluded from the academy process will be given a detailed analysis of why they are being excluded and the weakness that resulted in their exclusion.


Model Óg Academy: U13

Aim: To introduce a broad number of players on an open ended basis to high quality coaching with peers from different clubs. This programme will educate and provide the player with the experience of quality training to support their development in a progressive manner. The programme will support Club and School programmes and not overload the participant. At this level the focus will be on introducing all interested youths to the Academy system. Regional sessions will be offered to ensure that ease of access is available for players.

Development Squads – U. 14-16

Aim: To develop a more exclusive number of players to standards suitable for selection on Inter-County Minor and Adult Club Teams. Dedication and lifestyle parameters towards transfer to elite performance should be emphasised. At this stage, the squads will operate on the basis of selecting a smaller group of players to further develop on the pathway to elite performance. Sessions will be organised on a regional basis while regular group sessions will be organised in the County Centre of Excellence.

Management Structure        

The role of the County Talent Academy Sub-Committee is to:

  • Convene regular meetings of the County Talent Academy Sub-Committee
  • To select – in conjunction with the County Committee, Games Development Committee– the manager of each squad
  • To maintain records of each squad
  • To submit regular reports to the County Committee and Games Development Committee on the progress of all squads and coaches
  • To formulate and agree a managers charter for the County Talent Academy
  • Identify the selection criteria for all players
  • Develop systems to assess and provide feedback to all players and coaches
  • Outline the overall programme of activities for each squad
  • Outline the calendar of events for each squad
  • To evaluate the County Talent Academy
  • Outline a detailed budget of accounts for all squads

The structure of the management of each squad should contain:

  • A manager who has overall responsibility for the squad
  • A number of coaches should be appointed to each squad

The County Games Manager in conjunction with the County Games Development Committee will have responsibility for planning the annual programme and liaising with fixture making bodies in the county to avoid clashes with local club and school games.

An annual training programme should be agreed by Games Development Committee and squad management at beginning of the year. Coaching sessions should be put into club fixtures programme to ensure there is no conflict or clashes.

Player Selection

  •  Coaches should ensure that the selection criteria for players on each of the County Talent Academy goes beyond the physical characteristics, and focuses on a combination of technical, tactical, team play, physical, psychological and other criteria, which is often referred to as intangible criteria.
  • We will explore whether it is possible to identify players born in each portion of the year. i.e. a squad may consist of players born in January – March, April – June, July – September, October – December.
  • In Counties with multiple Talent Academy squads at a particular age group, organise the Talent Academy squads by grouping players with similar physical attributes together
  • Select Talent Academy squads incorporating players from all Clubs and Schools within the County
  • Clubs who focus on one code should always be offered the opportunity to provide players to squads on the basis that their players are committed to that particular code and will develop if given the correct coaching.

Relationship with Clubs and Schools

In order to streamline the training requirements for players operating in Clubs, Schools and County Talent Academy, we will agree a common player development programme delivered by each of the three stakeholders collectively. Such a programme will encompass Hurling/Gaelic football specific aspects, sports science supports and lifestyle/player education. The County Games Development Committee should lead this integration of programmes for Club, School and County Academy squads, to ensure that there is no conflict in the type and amount of training undertaken by players representing many squads.

The County Talent Academy can also be used in conjunction with the stronger Clubs and Schools within any County ensuring that adequate games programmes are rolled out for all players for example, where a strong school exists within a County that school may be invited to participate in local County Talent Academy blitzes along with regional County Talent Academy squads.

Relationship with Parents

 The parents of players within the County Talent Academy perform a vital function within the squad. In many Counties they are responsible for travel to and from sessions and games and as such should be fully informed of the ethos, structure and activities involved with the County Talent Academy. With this in mind, a specific presentation will be made to parents of players involved so that they understand what their son is involved in, the commitment that is required and the programme of activities planned. All selection and de-selection procedures should be outlined to all parents.

In many instances, parents will take a strong interest in their sons’ activities with the County Talent Academy. This should be facilitated through encouraging parents to attend coaching sessions, games and any relevant lifestyle educational workshops.

Monitoring of Players

The monitoring of each player is complemented by the implementation of a Lifestyle education programme for each player, where issues related to player welfare, nutrition, injury prevention etc provide players with the necessary knowledge and skills to monitor their own progress.

Dual Players

Players at U13 and U14 level will be encouraged to play both codes where interested. At U 15 level coordinators will commence a process whereby players who display stronger characteristics in one code will be offered advice as to a preferred pathway.

Hurling/Gaelic Football Programme

 A Specific skills programme outlining focus areas for each team will be outlined to coaches.

 Sports Science Support

 One of the key underlying principles of the County Talent Academy plan is the provision of sports science support. This programme aims to ensure that the best practitioners are identified, thereby ensuring that a high standard of support is available to County Talent Academies. Sports science support may be provided in some/all of the following areas:

  • Strength & Conditioning
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Biomechanics

Performance Analysis

The Sports Science Support will be provided by experts within the field of Sports Science. Providers will be accredited through the GAA and the National Hurling and Gaelic football Development Centers with the amount and range of support services provided to County Talent Academies agreed.

Lifestyle Education

To support the development of the “whole” player, workshops are delivered to parents and players throughout the programme. Topics will include:

  • Diet and hydration
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention
  • Injury prevention
  • Lifestyle management

Identification/Selection of Coaches

The identification of coaches to operate within the system is a key consideration towards the success of the County Talent Academy. Preference will be given to including talented coaches from the Club or Post Primary School system that display the potential to develop. Coaches should have achieved, or be en route to achieving their Award 2 Youth qualification as a minimum requirement and be experienced at coaching the youth player at either Club or Post Primary level. Consideration will be given to including former Inter County players as part of the coaching structure, with a view to incorporating them into the County Talent Academy coaching structures. Unless unavoidable parents of players will not be considered as coaches

Training/Support of Coaches

We will create a Community of Learning composed of the coaches operating within the County Talent Academy structure. This community should meet on a regular basis and discuss issues related to the implementation of the County Talent Academy programme within each County. These sessions should also focus on the up-skilling of coaches on specific activities within the County Talent Academy programme.

Monitoring Coaches

Monitoring of coaches is equally as important as monitoring of players. Ensuring that coaches are of sufficient quality and deliver adequate coaching inputs is the responsibility of the County Talent Academy Sub-Committee. This programme will be a supportive programme, rather than an assessing programme”.