On Monday evening last, the 29th January, to a packed room of over 600 players, parents, coaches and club members in Hotel Kilkenny, the Kilkenny GAA Academy, Na Cait Óga, was launched. Speakers on the night were PJ Kenny, Chairperson Kilkenny GAA, David Denieffe, Coaching and Games Chairperson, Michael Fennelly, Performance Lead, Sean Kelly, Athletic Development Lead and finally, Terry Clune, CEO and Founder of CluneTech. Kilkenny GAA was delighted to welcome Terry as its guest on the night and announce that CluneTech will be the new sponsor of our Kilkenny GAA Academy.
Ushering in a new era for our young players, Performance Lead, Michael Fennelly, outlined the work put in place by him and his team for the 2024 season and beyond. The newly revamped Academy will provide a pathway for emerging young talent within our county starting at U14. The Kilkenny GAA Academy structure will consist of an ecosystem where players, parents/guardians, schools, clubs and coaches are all supported through educational resources and tools.
The vision of Na Cait Óga is to generate a healthy and broad cohort of players, providing them with an opportunity to advance in all aspects of their game. At the heart of its mission, the Kilkenny academy will create an environment to support and develop our emerging talent from a psychosocial (social, physical, psychological) position which will result in a setting where players can thrive in their personal development.
To achieve these goals, the following best practice objectives will be utilised:
- Coaching the technical skills of hurling through game based scenarios and encouraging problem based learning
- Developing players for the physical demands of hurling with a focus on each individual state of maturation
- Providing tools on supporting players with the psychological challenges of life and sport
- Learning leadership qualities and encouraging independent decision making
- Offering guidance and support around lifestyle management in terms of school, sport and life balance for each of our players
Michael spoke in detail about our culture, tradition and identity, all of which feed into the standards (attitude, accountability, honesty, battle ready, brotherhood, growth mindset) and values (work rate, spirit, humility, respect the jersey) that resonate across all Kilkenny players, teams and clubs. Using symbols, such as our nickname “the Cats”, Michael spoke of drawing on the history and folklore of the “Kilkenny Cat” and attributed the characteristics of a large black cat (powerful, agile, smart, fast, fearless etc) to what Na Cait Óga should aspire.
Finally, Michael spoke of the various invaluable resources available to our players, parents/guardians and coaches such as Castlecomer Discovery Park, the use of RYPT to create a digital athletic passport for each player, AMS Cardiac Screening and our new Player Wellbeing Officer, Shane Noonan, who will provide support to players and parents in dealing with all aspects of daily life and helping them achieve a healthy sport/life balance.
We wish Na Cait Óga the very best for the coming season and the years ahead.
Click HERE for photos courtesy of Willie Dempsey.
By Mary Morgan Tue 30th Jan