Concentrating hard on the hurling in St. Mary's NS Aughnasheelin
Leitrim hurling may have broken new ground in 2017 with an All-Ireland win and a Lory Meagher Cup Final appearance. But Leitrim Cumann na mBunscol are taking steps to ensure the sport has a strong future in the county.
Cumann na mBunscol Liatroma is currently piloting a hurling initiative which aims to introduce and promote hurling in every primary school in Leitrim over the course of the next two school years.
The ambitious project has the full backing and is being subsidised by Leitrim GAA Coaching and Games Development.
The genesis of the initiative began last spring when a meeting took place which involved National Hurling Development Manager Martin Fogarty, Connacht Hurling Development Officer Damien Coleman, Hurling Coach Michael Carroll, Leitrim Games Development Manager Thomas Keenan and officers of Leitrim Cumann na mBunscol and a plan was hatched for the 2017/18 school year.
Basically what was involved was the purchase of 200 Hurleys, 200 Helmets and a consignment of sliotars which were divided into packs of 30 each and earmarked for six pilot schools.
The schools of the officers of Cumann na mBunscol, namely Aughavas NS, Aughnasheelin NS, Bornacoola NS, Drumcong NS, Drumkeerin NS and Drumshanbo NS were designated pilot schools as teachers involved in those schools willingly took on the task ahead. The packs were received by the schools in the week leading into Halloween Break and will remain in use there until Christmas.
Follow up from the delivery of the equipment has included a scheduled and delivered visit from Coach Michael Carroll to the schools to empower teachers to deliver a programme of basic hurling coaching to the pupils in their charge and to spread the hurling gospel to many pupils who may have otherwise missed out on this opportunity.
The coach will revisit the schools later on in the programme to assess how they are progressing and to further advise.
The plan takes relative cognisance of the very fact that its success ultimately depends on buy in from as many schools as possible and self help, with as much access to outside expertise as is required to deliver on its ultimate aim.
The ultimate plan for these schools is that, at the end of the pilot programme, they will be brought together to play a blitz series where they will get to further practice their recently acquired skills against children who have commenced at the same basic level in a full filled environment.
The full roll-out will involve three sessions between January – June 2018 and with five sessions planned for the 2018-19 school year and the target is to have every school in the county trying hurling for six weeks for free.
While this may seem very basic in its essence, it is nonetheless an exciting venture for all concerned and Cumann na mBunscol is very hopeful that when the pilot has concluded there will be a steady stream of schools ready to undertake and willingly participate in the full roll-out from January forward.
The initial signs are that this will not present a major challenge. Feedback from the pilot schools has been most positive and the children are really enjoying the experience, as indeed are the teachers who have willingly agreed to participate in its delivery.
Indeed anecdotal evidence would suggest that even allowing for the fact that Leitrim is not a county that would be considered to a hurling stronghold by any stretch of the imagination, teachers with at most, limited experience of hurling are delivering the hurling initiative without difficulty.
All schools have been written to in October to register with Cumann na mBunscol to express their interest in getting involved and the initiative has received many great reviews. ‘Simple but Effective’ would seem to be the motto so let’s spread the word!
Cumann na mBunscol Liatroma would like to thank Martin Fogarty, Damien Coleman, Michael Carroll and Thomas Keenan for their respective roles in helping to get this initiative off the ground, and particularly Leitrim GAA Coaching and Games Development Committee for its commitment towards and subsiding of the gear provided.
We look forward to the full roll out of the programme and exciting times ahead for the development of Leitrim Hurling! Leitrim schools can register their interest at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the story @cnmbleitrim on Twitter.