Interesting article from an Offaly journalist, interesting final paragraph, any comments.
Pat Nolan column: The moon remains out of the reach of capital’s hurlers;
It’s almost 16 years now since the Dublin Hurling Review Group published its “Blueprint for Change and Success”.
In light of last Sunday’s 14-point defeat to Galway in the Leinster SHC, as the flagship team’s stock continues to fall, it’s worth examining just how much progress has been made with regard to hurling in the capital since 2001.
There was clearly some “aim for the moon and, if you miss, you may hit a star” thinking in the 28-page document.
The ambition of hurling being the number one Gaelic sport in Dublin by 2010 is an obvious one in that regard.
On the whole, the positives far outweigh the negatives in terms of what’s been achieved but, yet, it’s hard not to feel underwhelmed.
If the group was told back in 2001 that, by 2017, Dublin would have won just a single Leinster title and a National League at senior level, would they have been satisfied? Hardly.
They were outstanding achievements for the players and management involved but they weren’t meant to be a means to an end which, for now at least, they have turned out to be.
Winning an All-Ireland by 2008 at some grade was another stated aim but that didn’t happen, bar the Dublin Colleges’ success in 2006.
Cuala crossed the threshold earlier this year but that owes as much, if not more, to the club’s long-time hurling background than a cross-county change of culture.
Undoubtedly, participation levels with hurling in Dublin have mushroomed and the promotion of the game is far better.
The success that Dublin have enjoyed at different levels makes it much more attractive to play hurling than was the case a decade or more ago.
There’s a plan from when a youngster first holds a hurl at under-8 right through the ranks.
The coaching programmes implemented by the county board have ensured that better quality players are coming through, as evidenced by the fact that Dublin have won nine Leinster titles at minor and under-21 level since 2005, second only to Kilkenny (12) in that period.
But, tellingly, none of those teams went on to win an All-Ireland, with more than half of them failing to even reach a final.
Among the other aims of the blueprint was to appoint a full-time director of hurling, a role which Diarmuid Healy filled briefly.
He wasn’t replaced but aspects of his job were absorbed by others.
Other aspirations included “sporting competitors seeing us as a leader” and the quality of the coaching being “envied and emulated”.
The coaching structures in Dublin are certainly envied in other counties, most notably those that have fallen well off the pace, but not so much by other codes within the county. And perhaps that’s at the nub of why the progress has been solid without being spectacular.
One club GPO (games promotion officer) in Dublin told this correspondent that he is requested to go to other clubs for hurling development purposes despite the fact that they already have GPOs.
However, they are more, if not exclusively, focused on football despite both codes falling under their remit and when they do branch out, the hurling coaching tends to be more generic and less specialised.
That clearly has a knock-on effect in terms of developing the game in those clubs and underage development squads are still dominated by the traditional strongholds.
After 16 years, you would expect that a batch of really top class coaches and/or managers would be emerging in Dublin but it doesn’t appear to be the case.
It seems inevitable that the reign of Cork native Ger Cunningham as senior manager will end after the current Championship campaign and Galway’s Mattie Kenny is the clear favourite to replace him with no obvious local candidate waiting in the wings.
Perhaps that’s the greatest indictment of all.