Wexford chief calls on Sport Ireland to help kids return to clubs

Micheál Martin, the principal of Scoil Realt na Mara in Kilmore, this week welcomed back 200 primary pupils who have been playing sports in pods at lunch-time
Wexford chief calls on Sport Ireland to help kids return to clubs

Micheál Martin at the launch of Wexford GAA’s €5m five-year strategic plan in which they reveals plans to employ at least 15 games development officers (GDOs) by 2025.

Wexford chairman Micheál Martin has called on Sport Ireland to work with the GAA in allowing children return to play with their clubs.

Martin, the principal of Scoil Realt na Mara in Kilmore, this week welcomed back 200 primary pupils who have been playing sports in pods at lunch-time.

It’s a sight he believes can be repeated in clubs.

“If you come into this school this morning we’ve a one-way system, staggered drop-off, sanitisation stations, and everything is done very safely. Now can we guarantee that we won’t have a case of Covid? No, we can’t because if it comes into the community, there are 28 kids sitting inside smallish classrooms.

“Surely we should now be starting a conversation about developing the protocols and the resources to show how this is done so that in Meath or in Wexford we can see what’s needed to develop: One-way systems in, hand sanitising, pods and another way out — where do parents go?

“We have a two- to three-week lead-in, in delivering this and I would underpin everything by emphasising the importance of safety — none of us are public health experts, who know the dangers of the variants — but the point I made at the county board meeting is that if it’s safe enough for children to sit in classes, it’s safe enough for them to be outside in pods.

It’s massively important that it’s done because the mental wellbeing for children and youths is massive. It’s a sunny day today and my kids are going to be outside doing a bit of hurling at break-time in their pods so it should be possible for clubs to replicate that with the right guidance. I’d be strong on that.

Martin was speaking at the launch of Wexford GAA’s €5m five-year strategic plan in which they reveal plans to employ at least 15 games development officers (GDOs) by 2025.

Modelled on the Dublin strategy which started 15 years ago, the county board are looking to assist 75% of their clubs with the GDO scheme.

Assisted by the GAA’s East Leinster scheme, Wexford currently have 10 GDOs and are hoping to have 12 by the end of this year.

Martin argues Sport Ireland should be investing more in the recruitment of GDOs given the work they do.

“I don’t think we get enough off Sport Ireland. I’ve a GDO that comes to our school and the service that is provided by games promotion officers (is excellent). I think Sport Ireland should be providing additional funding to the GAA for the service that has (been) provided and I don’t think we should be behind the doors in calling for that.”

In the plan, there are no tangible championship goals set out for the teams but for a good reason, Martin points out. 

“In terms of the performance, the language was very much guided by people like Billy Walsh (the USA boxing head coach is on the county’s high-performance committee). He’s probably one of the leading experts in the world on this.

“We have spoken to some of the leading sporting figures in the world over the last couple of months. If you put in that you’re going to win three Bob O’Keeffes or two All-Irelands and for example you get beaten in the All-Ireland final by the last puck of the ball, is that a failure or a success?”

Meanwhile, Wexford senior hurling co-captain Matthew O’Hanlon has described the decision to prevent joint skippers from receiving cups as “nonsensical”.

As Longford seek a derogation of the rule, Martin is looking for a clarification on the matter after Central Council passed it prior to Saturday’s Congress.

O’Hanlon, who shares the captain’s honour with Lee Chin, remarked: “My first instinct was, I didn’t understand really where it was coming from. That there were other issues at a GAA Congress level that should be given a higher priority than that.

“But in essence, it doesn’t really bother me. It doesn’t bother Lee. We’re nominated by our peers and selected by our management to lead the team. We’re still going to lead our team in that way. But yeah, overarching feeling is (it’s) nonsensical. I don’t really understand where it came from.”

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