The GAA’s National Hurling and Camogie Development Provincial Workshops have been confirmed for this summer with sessions planned in all four provinces.
National Hurling Development Manager Martin Fogarty explained: “It’s a great opportunity for lads to meet these lads, to talk to these players. We do a lot of coaching, obviously, but this is slightly different, it’s a chance to hear from lads who have made it to the top, if you like, and to hear from them what they think is important.
They do some coaching as well and it all reinforces the message. For me one of the primary skills is striking the ball - striking off left and right, on the ground and out of your hand. The farther you can hit it the better, and the more accurate you are, the better.
What happens is the people who come to these training workshops see that these lads all believe in those essential skills as well.”
Fogarty stresses the need to use that word ‘essential’.
“I’ve changed the word ‘basics’ to ‘essentials’ in coaching - when you’re training under-fives you get down to rising the ball and so on, but when I coach an adult teams I get them to rise the ball as well. And they might be looking at you when you ask them to do it.
“What I say then to them is ‘if you went to Waterford v Kilkenny in the national league last year and look at the warm-up, they’re both rising the ball while they warm up’.
"If teams which have been winning and playing in All-Irelands for years are doing that in the warm-up, what’s that telling you?
“And then you put lads doing it and after five minutes you say, ‘look how many balls you’re dropping, you need to practice that’. There are other skills - catching, for instance, which isn’t just high fielding, but collecting a ball handpassed five yards to you. At these workshops, then, you can talk to someone like Tommy Walsh about catching a ball, and it all comes together.”
The aim is to have a workshop in each province, and Fogarty says the demand is there for them: “We bring some ex-county players to each - the current lads are too busy - and we divide into three or four stations and the attendees rotate through the stations.
“Afterwards we have a bit of food and maybe a Q and A with the lads, and it’s gone very well.”