GAA management author Healy says GAA compulsory coaching credentials move does not go far enough

It’s a start, Healy concedes, but management and coaching not the same thng and right structures must be in place

Tim Healy, author of a book on team sports and specifically GAA management, Can You Manage? sees Dublin’s appointment of Jim Gavin as football team manager as evidence of the astute managerial structures in place in Dublin. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Tim Healy, author of a book on team sports and specifically GAA management, Can You Manage? sees Dublin’s appointment of Jim Gavin as football team manager as evidence of the astute managerial structures in place in Dublin. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 01:00


The GAA’s regulations requiring inter-county management teams to have minimal coaching qualifications from 2016 don’t go far enough, according to a member of the Football Review Committee, which recommended their acceptance.

Whereas the news announced at the weekend represents progress in an era of increasing specialisation, management consultant Tim Healy – author of a book on team sports and specifically GAA management, Can You Manage? – believes it is a mistake to view managing and coaching as inter-changeable.

“It is a start,” he says of the initiative requiring all county management teams in hurling and football to include an Award 2 coach, “but unless management in general is addressed, this is insufficient.

“In reality, most of those managing teams, certainly at county level, already have some coaching certificates. If we are going to work on the basis that managing and coaching are one and the same thing, we are making a mistake.

“It’s a problem in all sports and not just within Gaelic games – the tendency to parachute in former prominent players without assessing properly their suitability for the position.

“Management’s my background and there’s no other walk of life where you send someone to take over a management position without training. Eugene (McGee, chair of the FRC) shared that view strongly.”


Staging post
While Healy – who jointly presented, with Paul Earley, the FRC case for the adoption of the black card at last year’s annual GAA congress in Derry – accepts this is important he hopes it is a staging post rather than a destination.

“I feel the GAA should look at creating enhanced structures to give basic training as a benefit or assistance for those interested in management. Coaching is an obvious start although I suspect inter-county managers don’t do as much coaching as they used to but organisation and communication skills are important.

“A management training programme is needed so that those who wish to manage are properly prepared.

“There is a way to approach putting a management team in place. There is a way to set up proper channels of communication with players, with the county board, with media etc.

“There is a way to establish the boundaries in terms of discipline and behaviour. There is a way to enforce these agreed rules.

“There is a way to avoid misunderstandings, to have clarity on all the key issues facing the team. A coaching certificate will not cover these areas.


Management teams
“Look at the nature of inter-county management and the size of the management teams for instance in place in the All-Ireland champions Clare and Dublin. They are organisations in themselves.

“ I think, for example, Dublin have shown good judgment in their approach to appointing managers.

“They have looked at candidates like Pat Gilroy and Jim Gavin, who had experience of management outside of sport as well, obviously, as having good knowledge of the games and also an ability to assess players.

“But their succession management has also been good, bringing up Jim Gavin from a successful stint with the under-21s

“Croke Park have handled the need for coaching credentials very well in their training programmes and I believe it’s time to focus on other aspects of management.

“ I’d like to see management education models adapted from third level.”

From 2018 the head coach of inter-county teams will have to have an Award 2 qualification but the GAA also intend recognise experienced managers by organising assimilation programmes, “which will ensure that coaches who have the requisite skills are recognised for those skills and certified at the appropriate level”.