Laois Coaching and Games Development - What we do
Laois Coaching and Games Development - What We Do
If children choose to play soccer and rugby after they've tried our game, I have no problem with it. But if they never had a choice to catch a hurley, then we're all condemned"
- Paudie Butler
It isn't hard to be good from time to time in sports. What's tough is being good every day
Primary Schools 
Club School Link
At any one time in the school year, we would have approximately 40 coaches on this scheme. They are mostly from the local club and we are now in virtually every primary school in the county. They carry out blocks of coaching and are in the school every week of the block. We have developed an excellent rapport with the teachers and pupils over the years.
In association with Cumann na mBunscol and to provide focus for the Club School Link, we organize Go Game blitzes for our Primary Schools. Schools take part in a mixture of blitz events.Some of these blitzes in our bigger schools are internal; some are clusters of smaller schools and in the summer term we organize the blitzes on a county basis. We focus especially on 3rd and 4th classes which are the age groups under the Cumann na mBunscol County competitions.
GNS Camogie Scheme
In association with Laois Camogie and Leinster Camogie, our GNS Camogie scheme provides amogie coaching for our all girl schools.
GNS Ladies Football Scheme
In association with Laois Ladies Football and Leinster Ladies Football, our GNS Ladies Football scheme provides football coaching for our all girl schools.
We link with the Portlaoise College PLC Sports Course to provide coaching for Scoil Bhride and Portlaoise Gaelscoil primary schools. The coaching is from ABC Infant classes to 6th classes. This is a win win for both Portlaoise College and the primary schools. The coaches on the PLC course get practical coaching experience on a progressive basis throughout the year which greatly enhances their course. The primary schools are within walking distance of the College and really enjoy the experience.
We link with the Carlow IT GAA Course to provide coaching and blitz days for primary schools close to the Carlow border. The Carlow IT coaches also coach at our Easter Camps and this year oversaw a Training Camp Day for our U16 Football Development Squad. As with the Portlaoise PLC Project, this gives the 3rd level students essential practical experience and is of great benefit to our schools, clubs and Development Squad players.
Our full time staff mentor our Club School Link coaches on site in their primary schools. This mentoring is separate to our Coach Education Courses. Activities and games which have worked on the ground in our system are shared and expanded through the system. We also show coaches how to use the sometimes limited space available which in some cases is only a school yard.
U Can Testing
Our coaches carry out U Can skill testing of our 5th/6th classes as part of our provincial and national targets. Next year we intend to align the U Can School testing with our Laoiskill club and county system.
We have just begun to pilot an ABC [Agility,Balance,Co-Ordination] Workshop for primary teachers. This Workshop covers our Laois ABC Fundamental Programme which the teachers can use as part of their PE Curriculum from Infant to 2nd classes.
Secondary Schools 
Over the past two years we have organized Laois Secondary Schools Competitions. These competitions run at 1st Yr, 2nd Yr and Senior in football and hurling and at Cup and Shield levels. In all this entails 12 new competitions. All of the 1st and 2nd Yr Cup finals are held before Laois National League games under lights where possible.
This has created a great buzz for the young players involved, being involved in the big nights, playing before the seniors in their county grounds. These competitions are aimed at supplementing the Leinster games programme to help our secondary schools get stronger.
The 1st and 2nd Yr competitions do not use age groups and therefore allow players who might not have got a place on the Leinster Colleges competitions teams to get their chance and keep playing our games. Next year we intend to have a Laois Scondary Schools Medal for all our County competitions.
1st Year 11 a Side
In September/October this year we organized 1st Year 11 a Side Blitz Days for football and hurling. The days were a great success. The bigger schools entered two teams and all the teams were guaranteed at least 3 games. These will be annual events on our calendar.
County School Link
This year we began our County School Link. This programme envisages replicating the Club School Link for primary schools by making county coaches available to help Secondary Schools in the county where needed. It is planned to further develop this programme over the next few years.
Club Mentor Link
Next school year we plan to begin to roll out a programme whereby mentors from the local clubs who are available during the day would be made available to the secondary school teachers. They would help the teacher with the school teams.
Mid Term Blitz Days
This school year we organized a February Mid-Term Hurling Blitz Day. The Laois U16 development squad took part along with the Waterford development squad, St Kierans College and Thurles CBS. The blitz was in Heywood College and used the new 3G pitch. It was an excellent blitz with Laois playing top class hurling to win the competition, beating Thurles CBS in the semi and Waterford in the final. It is planned to have one at the Haloween Mid Term as well as the February one next year and to have 14 as well. This will give our hurlers 4 top class games at Colleges A level every year.
TY Coaching Course
We are available to give a TY Coaching Course for any Secondary Schools in the county who would like to offer it to their students.
The Go Games are organized for U8 and U10 players in both football and hurling. The season runs from April to September and all Laois clubs are now involved at both age groups. There are Mini Leagues where two clubs play each other at U8 and U10 level. We also organize blitz days for both age groups where teams play 3 games. Go Games are run in a spirit of involvement, participation, the children having fun and getting to play in all positions. Games are small sided on modified pitches. Scores are not recorded for results or league tables. Over the season 1200 games will be played at Go games and Super 12 levels.
We support our Juvenile committee in the organizing of our Super 12s programme of games. This is the first season for the new Super 12s which caters for U12 players in both football and hurling. The season runs from April to August and all Laois clubs are involved. The games are 11 a side and all players play in each game. The season involves Mini Leagues, Blitzes with the finale being a Feile in August.
We support our Referee committee in organizing our Young Referees Programme. The Young Referees are 5th Yr and TY students. They referee Go Games U8 and U10 games, some O'Mordha Og and Setanta games and the O'Moore Park Experience Nights. Maurice Deegan and David Murphy run a training night for the Young Referees. They receive a Go Games Official Top and Whistle. A big highlight each year is a trip to Croke Park where they referee at the Leinster U8 Play and Stay Day. They receive their Certificates at County Final Day. Some of our Young Referees of the last few seasons are moving up the ranks to referee Super 12 and Juvenile games.
Our Respect Initiative is in place which reinforces best behavior and respect towards team mates, young referees, opponents and coaches. Players shake hands before and after the games.
O'Moore Park Experience Nights
In June each year we organize the O'Moore Park Experience Nights for our U10 footballers and hurlers. There are two separate nights for football and hurling. Every U10 player in the county gets to play in our county grounds ‘Home of the O'Moores ‘. All the names are read out over the intercom and the National Anthem is played before each round of games. Two other big highlights for the young players are the ‘Parade behind the Piper' and ‘Lifting the County FinalCup' in the stand after the game. These nights have proved a major highlight on our calendar over the past number of years.
Laoiskill Day and U Can Skills Test
Over the past two years we organized a Laoiskill Day for U10 players in football and hurling. This year we are combining the Laoiskill with the U Can Skill Tests which will be for U12 players. Each club will have a club skills event. Winners from each club will go forward to a County event and a County Hall of Fame will begin this year in selected skill tests. Clubs and primary schools can also have their own Hall of Fame. All the Skill Test Notes, Certificates pdfs and Videos of the tests will be uploaded onto the Laois website under Coaching/Laoiskill where clubs and schools can download for their events.
Croke Park U8 Play and Stay
Every year Leinster has two Play and Stay days in Croke Park for U8 players. Laois clubs take part each year and we use a rota system to give every club their chance over a 3 year cycle. It is a fantastic experience for these young players to play in the Field of Dreams and go up in the Hogan Stand to Lift the Cup. Many clubs make a day of it with a trip to the Zoo and lunch at the Double Arch Restaurant.
Coach Education 
Coach Education Centre
We use Heywood Community School as our Coach Education Centre. Heywood is an ideal venue for our courses. It has excellent facilities with 3G all weather pitch, Grass Pitch, Sports Hall, Gym, Canteen/Lecture Area and Catering Kitchen.
Foundation Courses Football and Hurling
The Foundation Course is the first step on the coaching ladder. It is a generic course and covers all the fundamentals of coaching. The course modules include an Introduction to Coaching, Fundamental Movement in Gaelic Games, Skill Development, Coaching Children, Youth and Adults and Introduction to Games. It is a requirement of coaches to have completed the Foundation Course in order to be eligible for any Award 1 Courses.
Award 1 Youth Adult Course Football and Hurling
The Award 1 Youth Adult Course is for coaches who have completed their Foundation Course and have been actively coaching. They must be coaching teams from U14 to Senior. The course is not geared for coaches of teams younger than U14. The course modules include, Introduction/OTu Model, Communication, Technical Proficiency, Tactical Prowess, Team Play, Physical Fitness, Playing Facts, Psychological Focus, Rules and Lifestyle, Role of Coach.
Award 1 Child Course Football and Hurling
The Award 1 Child Course is for coaches who have completed their Foundation Course and have been actively coaching. They must be coaching teams from U6 to U13. The course is not geared for coaches of teams older than U13. The course modules, Introduction/OTu Model, Role of Coach, Communication, Building and Breaking Skills, Adapting Games for Decision Making, Family of Games, Physical Literacy, U Can Testing, Why Children Play, Planning for Success.
Workshops Football and Hurling
We organise Workshops for [a]Coaches of Go Games U8/U10 age groups, [b] Coaches of Super 12 and U14 age groups and [c] Specialized such as Paudie Butler's Striking Workshop.
Cul Camp Training
Outside of Foundation Courses, our VHI Cul Camp coaches receive specific training prior to our summer schedule. We cover games and activities which are proven to work well on the ground at differing age groups in our school and club programmes.
Code of Best Practice and Garda Vetting
We organize Code of Best Practice Courses and Garda Vetting for coaches involved with Juvenile players. This year the Code of Best Practice Course and Garda Vetting were done in conjunction with our Foundation Coaching Courses and this will be the case for all new coaches. W also had 5 weeks of these courses for any other coaches who required these courses.
In conjunction with the Referees we organize training for our Young Referees
Website Coaching Resources
Over the Easter holiday period we videoed 3 hours of Games, Activities and Drills from U6 to U14 age groups. We are now editing these into short You Tube clips and these will be updated onto our new Laois Gaa Website [www.laoisgaa.ie]. These clips will be an excellent resource to our coaches and a back up to the content of our courses.
Club Coach Mentoring
We have just begun to pilot a Club Coach Mentoring Programme. This would involve a Mentor visiting club coaches in the field to reinforce the good practices and to offer advice in areas where we can make improvements. Over the next few years this programme would be an excellent follow through to our courses and has the potential to make a massive difference to the standard of coaching in our clubs.
The O'Mordha Og Football Programme began last year at U13 level. It is a similar programme to the Setanta Hurling one which is running for a number of years. The sessions were held in Park Ratheniska and were open to players up to the age from all clubs in the county. Many of our young 3rd level county players coached at the sessions. The players had a high intensity 4 day camp in The Heath and had 4 teams compete in an U13 Inter County Blitz hosted by Laois and held in O'Dempseys and The Heath. Overall the first year was a huge success and the benefits can be seen at U14 level this year. The programme is being rolled out at U12 and U13 level this year and we are looking forward to another successful year
The Setanta Programme in running for a number of years now and we have been very successful at Tony Forrestal U14 Div 2 level which we host over the past few years. Our U16 teams are now playing Div 1 at the Tipperary All Ireland Tournament and we are set to maintain this standard into the future. This year we are looking to revamp the programme with plans to organize the U10 and U11 age groups in 4 regions with Inter Regional games. The U12 and U13 will be county based with the U13's playing at Inter County Level. The Setanta Camps will vbe a feature again this year with the U10 and U11 at the regional venues. This new structure will make the experience more progressive and improve still further the skill levels. As with the O'Mordha Og we had our young 3rd level county players coaching in the Setanta Programme.
We have Development Squads at U14, U15 and U16 levels in both football and hurling. The sessions taken by our coaches are at the weekends. This is agreed with the Juvenile Committee in order to avoid clashes with club activity. The squads take part in the Leinster and National Blitzes as well as challenge games organized by the individual teams.
We plan to develop a Player Development Programme for all our Development Squad players including areas such as Age Appropriate Conditioning and Lifestyle, Diet and Nutrition.
VHI Cul Camps
Our annual VHI GAA Cul Camp programme offers a wide range of camps all over the county including 29 club camps as well as O'Mordha Og and Setanta county camps. Our camps offer very good value for money at only €50 and are a great week's entertainment and coaching for Primary School children. The price includes a gear pack with jersey, togs, socks and bag. Record numbers attended our camps last year. The camps are promoted in all our schools. The easiest way to book is online at www.gaa.ie. We now have a pool of excellent, high quality coaches who have gained experience with our Club School Link, O'Mordha Og , Setanta Programmes and Camps and this helps greatly in the success of our camps.
We run Easter Camps in conjunction with the Carlow IT GAA Course. Our football camp is in Knockbeg with our hurling camp in Clough Ballacolla. These camps give the 3rd level students practical experience and at 20 euros is excellent value for money for our young players.
O'Mordha Og and Setanta Camps
We organize O'Mordha Og and Setanta Camps as part of these programmes. These camps are of a higher intensity to our Vhi Cul Camps and are particularly popular with our U12 and U13 players.
The GAA has developed a Strategic Plan taking the Association to 2015. Each County must develop its own County Strategic Plan and a yearly plan is agreed in order to meet our targets.
The GAA MIS IT System allows each county to log its activities and generate reports in order to accurately scrutinize whether targets are being met in all the agreed areas. There are National and Leinster targets which Laois must hit each year as we progress to our 2015 Strategy.
The general administration we carry out would include:
Planning, Reporting, Financial Budgeting, Gear and Equipment, Buses and Catering, County Provincial and National Personnel Meetings, HR, Media and PRO, Website, Fixtures, Referees, Coach Allocations, Audits, TY Portlaoise College PLC and Waterford IT Work Placements, Course and Workshop Preparation, Databases, Correspondence with Stakeholders such as schools and clubs, Promotions and Launches, Urban Project.
In the coming months we will be involved in the new government TUS and Internship Schemes.