While there was always a route from one underage group to the next, this pathway will be much more clearly defined in future. Three two-year-programmes are outlined below. A coaching syllabus at each level is to be designed
Three levels (2-year programmes)
(i) School of Excellence
‘Finding the Player’ Cork U13 /14 aligned with… 1st/2nd year or U14 school team
At U13 and U14 level, the emphasis will be on player selection and skill development, while also introducing a physical exercise programme to underpin the physical conditioning, which will follow at subsequent stages. All coaching for the year at U13 and for the first half of the year at U14 will take place on a regional basis, with inter-regional tournaments, being used for player selection for county panels. This programme will conclude with a six-month block (ten weekly sessions) of field-based coaching for players selected on the county panel of 48, followed by the inter-county tournaments. This programme will be aligned with the 1st and 2nd year school programme at post primary level, in terms of skill development and games programmes.
(ii) Mardyke Programme
‘Moulding the Player’ Cork U15/16 aligned with… Junior school team
At U15 and U16 level, the programme will focus on individual player development with clear measurement of progress for each player. Skills testing, physical testing, video analysis and individual gym / skills programmes will be in place under the Mardyke programme. Panels of thirty players will be in place at both levels in football and hurling for the initial six-month period from November to April. A regional programme of games which will be provided concurrently for players outside of these panels is described below, from which the remaining 18 players will be selected to form the summer panels of 48. Both U15 and U16 panels will be aligned, throughout the year, in terms of training and games programmes. This programme will be also aligned with the Junior school teams at post primary level, in terms of skill / physical development and games programmes.
(iii) Cork Minor Programme
‘Moulding the Team’ Cork U17/18 aligned with… Senior school team
Finally at U17 and U18 level, the emphasis will move towards forming a successful inter-county Minor team, with mature, well-rounded individuals emerging from the previous programmes. The programmes and testing outlined above will continue to be in place, but players will be expected to have greater levels of independence, in terms of monitoring, by this point. Also, training will be more regular and intensive, with a higher number of matches also. This programme will be aligned with senior school teams at post primary level, in terms of skill / physical development and games programmes.
A New Squad Structure
In line with the recommendations of the Hennessey Report, there will again be a Cork ‘A’ panel of 30 at all age groups in both football and hurling. from U15 to U17. These will be called the Mardyke squads and will attend camp during school holidays at Halloween, Christmas, February mid-term and Easter.
As the underage divisional underage boards are no longer in existence, with the inter- divisional competitions expiring accordingly, there is currently a significant gap between club and county level…. a step missing from the ladder of progression, so to speak. Given the dispersed nature of the county it is not possible for second level schools to fully fill this gap.
In the past year, the Rebel or B squads have attempted provide a stepping stone between county and club, with several players being called in throughout the year and with promotion to and from the A squads. However, as contact with these B squads was limited, it is now believed that providing effective coaching under such format is unlikely. Also, at 30, it is considered that the B squad is too small to incorporate a significant trawl of the county for new players. In other words, a broader county-wide structure is required as both a coaching and trial mechanism, providing a base from players can progress to the A squad.
The proposed model is based on the old divisional structures, but with significant modification. The eight divisions are merged to form four new regions. Also, due to the different focus in a number of regional areas on either football or hurling, there are merged differently for each code. Therefore, it seeks to address the imbalance between strong and weak areas in either code. Geographical dispersal is also taken into account and the proposed structure fits well with the current geographical areas allocated to the Games Development Administrators (GDAs).
This format was used last year in selecting the Cork U14 panels, with regional coaching under the GDAs leading to inter-regional tournaments from which county squads were then selected. It is also being used currently at U13 level with regional panels now formed.
If a player is on an A county panel in one code (e.g. hurling), he will not be allowed to line out with a regional team in the other (e.g. football). This is to avoid burnout, but such players will be given a trial in the other code at some stage during the year and if successful, may join the panel of 48 for the summer programme. Finally the regional structure will incorporate an open trial format in that clubs can propose players for selection to their local GDA for inclusion at the next available opportunity, ensuring that the door remains to all players at all times during the six-month regional period. Thus, the late developer is included.
A New Calendar
While the positives associated with continuously promoting and demoting players from squads are obvious in terms of providing opportunity for those outside the panel, there are also negatives in terms of putting young players under constant pressure and the confusion involved for players, parents and mentors. As a result, it has been decided to break the twelve-month programme into two six-month blocks.
At U14 level, a player will play with his region in A & B tournaments (total 200 players) described above from November to April. Then on May 1st the second half of the year will commence with the naming of the summer county squads of 48 players. This group of 48 (24 A & 24 B) will train over the summer in preparation for the inter-county tournaments. Players will be inter-changeable between A & B throughout the summer. A limited number of dual players will be permitted
At U15 level, from November to April, a player will be on either the A squad of 30 or will play with his region in tournaments outlined below. There will be no movement between panels unless a player drops out, suffers a long-term injury or is removed due to disciplinary reasons. Dual players will prioritise one code for this period During the same period, the inter-regional tournament games will run for 100 players, outside of the Cork 30.
At the end of April, all squads will be decommissioned and on May 1st the second half of the year will commence with the naming of the summer squads of 48 players each. These panels will most likely include the 30 A players and 18 further players selected from the regional tournaments. This group of 48 (24 A & 24 B) will train over the summer in preparation for the inter-county tournaments. Players will be inter-changeable between A & B throughout the summer. A limited number of dual players will be permitted
The initial A panels of 30 at U15 and U16 level were selected as follows. The outgoing mentors for the respective groups have nominated 25 players for inclusion and the remaining five places will go to players who impress at the opening round of regional games. These five players will be immediately upgraded to the A panel and will play no further part at regional level.
It is proposed that the U17 panel be aligned with the Cork Minor programme of dates. While this is agreed in principle with the Cork Minor football mentors, it is yet to be sanctioned officially.