A Director of Hurling needs to halt civil war with football

Former national co-ordinator Paudie Butler says that GAA needs all games to be nurtured

One of the most urgent tasks facing a national Director of Hurling would be to ensure that a truce is called in the civil war between football and hurling, according to Paudie Butler who was the GAA's national hurling co-ordinator up until 2011.

He was speaking about the recommendation of the GAA’s Hurling 2020 Committee that a director of hurling be appointed and charged with “the overall strategic development” of the game.

Butler, a retired teacher, who continues to work as a coach, strongly believes that Gaelic games should be equally encouraged and that halting what he terms “the neglect of hurling” should not be seen as a threat to football.

“The games complement each other beautifully and we should be trying to deliver the whole package across the board and not to have people fighting civil wars in their own parish because they prefer football and somebody else prefers hurling. That is not promoting the games of the association.

“The club player is much better off playing hurling and football. It would prevent injuries from over-training by giving more time to playing games than preparing for them because that ratio is way out of proportion.”

He believes that administrators need to rise above the conditioned preferences they acquired when growing up and give equal attention to all Gaelic games within their remit.

"There is a discipline required that county chairmen in county boards and provincial councils will commit to developing all our games and not just those that they have grown attached to through childhood experiences. Every child – every citizen – of Ireland should get the chance to play hurling. My own view is that that's a civil right. I also believe that football and handball should also be promoted.

“We support the whole family games and it’s for the good of everyone. If children get the chance to play hurling they will create a demand for it in their local clubs even if not in traditional areas. Take some of the big clubs in Dublin, like Ballyboden where there was no hurling to speak of 30 years ago and now look at them.

“From a very general point of view the function of the role should be to connect far-flung places to the headquarters in Croke Park. They may be neglected by their county boards and may not get fierce support from provincial councils but Croke Park will be making a statement that they’re connected and important and that hurling is important.

‘Not neglected’

“This reassurance is vital to people who give their lives to hurling in places where it’s not the first game. It is important that they know they are not being neglected by the association because all of the evidence suggest that they have been neglected for a long time.

“The priority is coaching in primary schools both for the health of the nation and for the development of hurling.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times