2022 was a huge year for GAA Coaching and Games Development:
By John Harrington
To say the GAA’s Coaching and Games Development team was busy in 2022 would be a decent contender for understatement of the year.
The sheer breadth of development work undertaken was huge, and drove a significant increase in the numbers participating in our national games at youth level.
Let’s begin with the veritable hive of club Gaelic games activity that took place.
In the F1 and F2 stages of the player pathway which includes children aged from 4 to 12, there were huge participation numbers in a variety of spheres.
The GAA’s Go Games programme aimed at U7-U11 was delivered across all thirty-two counties in 2022 in Hurling and Gaelic Football to 153,000 children. In total, there were 8,900 blitz opportunities for the 1,593 clubs who participated.
Away from the pitches, an updated Go Games policy was completed and a dedicated Go Games workshop aimed at coaches, mentors and club officers was also developed with roll-out scheduled later this month.
The establishment of club nurseries has increased rapidly in recent years with the number now up to 1,022 in 2022, with 58,000 participants and 8,900 volunteer coaches.
Participation numbers also continue to rise in the Kellogg’s Cúl Camps, with a total of 142,800 young people aged 6-13 taking part in 1,328 camps across 1,266 venues.
Club specific Easter, summer, and Halloween camps delivered by Coaching and Games Development staff in the 32 counties were also hugely busy with 62,098 children taking part in 615 camps.
In the U-12 to U-17 age grade, a total of 22,974 Gaelic football and 11,578 hurling competitive club matches were played across the 32 counties.
The GAA Club Super games programme also continued apace, with a total of 835 clubs delivering recreational games to 13,300 players, male and female, aged 12 to 17.
The Féile na nÓg and Féile Peile na nGael competitions are another vibrant success story, with over 9,000 players from over 380 teams taking part in both Regional and National days in 2022.
2022 Youth Games activity.
The Association’s Games Development Administrators and Games Promotion Officers aren’t just doing Trojan work in clubs, they’re very active in schools too.
The Primary Schools Coaching Programme across 32 counties involves over 330,000 children from 2,600 primary schools receiving 6.7 million cumulative coaching opportunities, while 26,185 pupils from 323 post primary schools received over 290,000 coaching opportunities nationwide.
The GAA Super Games programme is also rolled out in post primary schools with 19,500 pupils from 375 schools participating in 2022.
In order to continue the promotion and development of hurling, once again the priority in 2022 was to increase the number of meaningful matches for clubs in developing counties. To this end, the cross-county competitions, the Táin Óg and Cúchulainn hurling Leagues, were hugely successful.
The Táin Óg provides games for clubs at U13, U-15, and U17 level and in 2022 192 teams from 97 clubs and 15 counties played a total of 438 games, an increase of almost 200 on the number played in 2021.
2022 was the inaugural year of the Cúchulainn Adult Hurling League and it got off to a flier, with 57 teams from 14 counties playing 101 matches. Much like the Táin Óg, the Cúchulainn League is expected to also grow rapidly in the coming years.
The Celtic Challenge remains an important underage developmental competition for 16 and 17-year-olds. After a scaled down version in 2021, 39 teams from 29 counties took part in 2022.
The GAA’s Coaching and Games Development team was also extremely busy away from the playing pitches in 2022 with 1,579 club coaching mentoring sessions, 387 club development workshops, and 154 online club events taking place that involved a total of 51,000 participants.
There were 549 Introduction to Coaching Gaelic Games Award courses rolled out, and 135 Award 1 courses.
One of the guiding principles of the GAA Player Pathway is the encourage as many people as possible to play our games for as long as possible.
As the 2022 numbers vividly illustrate, the huge development work undertaken by the GAA’s Coaching and Games Department is helping make that aspiration a reality.