2019 has seen a busy year for all levels of Hurling within the club. Ranging from the massive surge in juvenile players to the Seniors annexing the Down Division 2 title for the first time. There is no doubt hurling has seen another successful year within the club. Results may not have reflected this across all the age groups but the fact that our participation levels have increased is success in its own right. Our coaching numbers have also seen an increase which is part of the reason for aiding the increase in players.
Following on from the on-field success of 2018, was always going to be a tough ask, but we gave it a good go, with several trophies coming back to Warrenpoint throughout 2019, namely the aforementioned Senior Division 2, Minor Shield (Patrick Rankins) and the U15 Tain Og Div. 4 Shield. Adding to this, our 6s, 8s and 10s participated in all but one of the county blitzes and gave a strong showing in them all. Thanks to senior committee for all their help and assistance throughout the year, particularly club Secretary Anne McCormack and fixtures secretary Daniel Bird. Thanks to Gerry O’Neill who once again acted as hurling representative on senior committee alongside our Hurling Chairperson, Colette Lock. Gerry & Colette provide the vital link between the hurling section and senior committee and their work is invaluable.
Many thanks to Dermot Donnelly, in his role as Hurling PRO, for his continuous promotion of hurling within the area and congrats and well done on his further roles with the County teams. Many thanks to Eugene McConville and Colette Lock for all their work in the local primary schools, particularly St Dallans, and a big thankyou to Brendan Rice and Brigid Carr who
facilitate our coaches getting into St Dallans. The club primary school link is vital to all sections and one that we need to develop further. Also thanks to Kieran Rice who continues to act as our Cumann Pheadaír Naofa hurling referee. A big thankyou to all our section sponsors, especially our main Senior sponsor Pizza Point. Also our various jersey sponsors and all businesses that supported us throughout the year. Jersey sponsors are; Pizza Point, Friar Tucks, WBR Credit Union, JY Hygiene, JBC Security, The Lough and Quay and Newcell Paper.
As with every year the hurling section set ourselves some targets to help us continue to develop our section and teams. The main ones and the success or otherwise are outlined below.
Coaching and Coach Development was at the fore in 2019. This year we encouraged our coaches to attend as many courses across the county to help gain experience and expertise in developing our hurlers. We also welcomed new faces to our hurling family especially at the younger age groups, our Summer Hurling & Camogie Week was again a success and many thanks to our volunteers, coaches and parents who gave up their time (and holidays) to help. A sign of our success has to be the enjoyment that we could see on each of the children’s faces as the week progressed. This reflects a key element we endeavour to achieve when coaching and that is to provide enjoyment to our hurling children whilst they learn the skills of our game.
The Club School Link in 2019 has seen the continuation of the ever successful Cumann Pheadaír Naofa club school link. Many thanks to Colette Lock and Eugene McConville for entering St Dallans and to Brendan Rice and Brigid Carr for facilitating this. As ever these sessions have proved invaluable to the children, School and Cumann Pheadaír Naofa hurling section. We are continuing to work towards allowing every child in St Dallans the opportunity to give hurling a try. We are currently working with coaches from Ulster GAA and Down GAA to look at the opportunities with the Warrenpoint catchment area to develop schools hurling and help them reach their potential.
Hurling PR in 2019 has again seen plenty of articles and photos across multiple platforms, thanks to the continuous and tireless work of Dermot Donnelly. Due to Dermot’s professional approach to his role he now is involved with County teams at various levels as well as being poached by our big ball compatriots.
Fixtures in 2019 again were plentiful with the Hurling section deciding to amalgamate (with Newry Shamrocks) at Under 21s, Minors and 16s, with the aim that we are not putting any additional pressure on boys having to “play up” an age. Our Under 14s also seen 4 men from Clonduff coming down to us to bolster up our numbers. The amalgamations have been questioned on several occasions, but when we see our Minor players being able to compete against the best teams and players in the county, it starts to make sense. We again entered the Tain Og league this year but only at Under 15 level (Under 13 was on a Monday night which clashed with U14 football) Again this proved to be a success when capturing the Shield.
Other activities include the ninth summer week – a tremendous success with over 90 boys and girls playing hurling and camogie throughout the week.
Increased presence at Cúl Camp – over the past two years we have been trying to integrate as many hurlers with the Cúl Camp as possible. Brendan Rice has been the main driving force here and this year again saw a healthy presence of hurlers at the Cúl camp including a lot of dual players which should be encouraged. It is important that every club member is at least offered the opportunity to participate in our full range of activities.
County development/hurling structures. This is an area that we promote every year, with one on the Minor and Under 17 squads and 6 on the U15 squads.
A main aim of the committee for 2020 is an increased senior panel – the continued success of the minors this year and the number of minors eligible for senior hurling next season will hopefully bolster the number of senior players again next year. This season the Seniors had a decent run to the semi-finals of the junior championship, and with additional experience to our younger members as well as more new faces coming into the panel.
We are very mindful that our great season was achieved at Division 2 level. However, with Down Division 1 looming next year, it is paramount that we aim that all of our players are playing at the highest level. Maintaining and growing number of players in each team – We have seen continued growth at our younger age groups which has given encouragement across the section. It is encouraging for our coaches as the numbers increase. This is recognition for the coaches and their teachings, and their priority in ensuring they try and provide each child with as much enjoyment whilst learning the arts of Hurling.
As above our numbers continue to increase and we continue to target ex-players and parents, with varying levels of success! As new coaches come in, we are committed to providing them with basic training. We are committed also to continuing to develop existing coaches. This keeps a freshness in the coaches and players.