Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

Conference urges Coaches to focus on Key Skills

February 23rd, 2015


The 11th O’Neills Ulster GAA Coaching Conference took place in the Glenavon House Hotel Cookstown on Saturday 21st February, with over 320 delegates traveling from all over Ireland and abroad to attend the event.

Keynote speakers Tony McEntee and Paul Earley delivered two engaging sessions, with both reinforcing the key messages about producing technically competent players. Tony clearly outlined Crossmaglen’s vision about developing players for the future and not focusing on winning at underage. Paul explained clearly the thorough preparation that went into the International Rules series and how he met and learned from Legendary Olympic Field Hockey Coach Rick Charlesworth, showing that we can learn and take best practice from others.

The workshops programme had high quality presenters, many of whom could have been keynotes on their own. Dr. Sharon Madigan delivered key nutrition messages for both male and female players emphasising the need to monitor and source player intake of supplements and other products to ensure that they are safe to use. John Morrison and Terence McWilliams looked at kicking techniques and challenged the coaches to bring more kicking into their game plans; good technical execution can speed the game up and make your team more effective.

Denise Martin who has presented at our earliest conferences back in 2003 looked specifically at performance analysis and how to use and communicate information to coaches. She worked closely with Anthony Daly in Dublin and brought a lot of her experiences to the session. Tyrone Hurling mentor Fergie O’Loughlin shared his vast experience on hurling development from 14 to senior with a particular focus on the role of academies. Donie Buckley, the current Mayo coach, provided an insight into coaching practice. Again with a focus on technical execution he brought into the discussion how coaches need to coach within drills and games, how they can condition games and activities to emphasis and coach key learning outcomes for a session and a player.

Marty Loughran delivered the session on injury prevention and prehab linking closely with Ryan Mellon’s session and focus on player welfare, what it means and how the system has evolved to put county mentors in place to assist and support young players. Ciaran Kearney delivered on of the key building blocks for success, addressing the key tools and methods to develop a positive mind set with players. Coaching Children is always a popular session and Aidan McLaughlin and Ben McGuckin didn’t disappoint with an interactive and engaging session that used video and set tasks to challenge a full house at both workshops. Kevin McGuigan and Jonathan Bradley presented the session on how and what stats to feedback to coaches. The challenge was to keep them relevant and manageable.

One of the highlights of the day was the presentation by Uachtarán Chomhairle Uladh Martin McAviney of the National Young Wheelchair Hurler of the Year Award to Conn Nagle. Thanks should be extended to all coaches who were there for the 9.00am start on a cold and snowy morning and to our sponsors O’Neills International Sportswear for the excellent delegate packs provided.

In order for us to inform and shape next year’s programme, we would welcome any feedback on the conference to be emailed to

Pictured is keynote speaker Paul Earley along with Ulster GAA Coaching & Games Committee Chairman Gerry Duffy and Ulster GAA President Martin McAviney.

Photos from the conference can be viewed on the Ulster GAA Facebook page.

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