Teamwork between Munster GAA and USGAA makes the dream work:
By Cian O’Connell
Various international units of the GAA have forged rewarding links with provincial councils in Ireland.
The relationship between Munster and USGAA continues to blossom with information shared, approaches adopted, and support provided.
USGAA’s involvement in the 2024 All-Ireland Junior Football Championship will be an interesting chapter with a homegrown team set to participate in the competition.
That, though, is only one part of the story with Munster GAA chairperson Ger Ryan encouraged about the process. “From our point of view what we can bring to them is support around their structures, both administrative and coaching and games,” he says.
“Other things like refereeing, we can provide some advice and assistance, we can help to train and develop people.
“What they bring then is their whole enthusiasm for the games, to keep things running across a country. We complement each other pretty well in terms of working together. We work closely on initiatives together so there is common ground.”
An increasing emphasis continues to be placed on developing underage structures and pathways for homegrown players. “It is very important, they do a great job with that,” Ryan replies.
“Where we can help there is to help to train coaches. We send people over maybe once or twice a year to help them train coaches and build models around coaching.
“They do an awful lot of good work on a day to day basis. Already they have a lot of good coaches at this stage with good structures around that. What we are really doing is complementing the stuff that they have implemented on the ground.”
Provincial councils in Ireland are ready, willing, and able to assist international units. It is a sector of the GAA that is thriving in recent years. “The work being done in the World Games is hugely important, it is hugely beneficial to the GAA,” Ryan remarks.
“There has been a lot of growth. In the USA it is very evident that it isn’t just amongst the Irish, you have a lot of Americans, who maybe have a connection way back to Ireland or maybe not at all. I’ve certainly seen that they have extended the GAA audience in a very wide way at this stage.
“They have broadened their perspective and broadened their horizons. Anybody who wants to play Gaelic Games is very welcome.
“It is important that the provincial councils support that because it is really about keeping Gaelic Games very much in the public eye, wherever you go in the world, particularly where you have Irish communities.”
New York triumphed in the 2023 All-Ireland Junior Championship with a native team. It offered hope to others and now US GAA will participate in next year’s competition. “It is hugely important, it is a recognition of the development that has been made by US GAA,” Ryan says.
“These will all be natives of the USA which is another piece of evidence that great strides are being made building the game and encouraging people to keep playing the game there.”