By Noel Dundon
Tipperary might be ready to contest the All-Ireland senior hurling and minor football finals, but the county is already planning for the future with the launch of the Premier Plan - a Strategic Vision and Action Plan for 2011-2015 - which took place at The Dome on Thursday evening last.
The very comprehensive and detailed plan sets out the goals and visions for the county for the next five years and has as one of it’s main aims, a 20% increase in volunteer participation in areas such as coaching, officership etc.
And, it also suggests that a close look needs to be given to divisional structures and whether there is a need to continue with the divisional system which was devised for by-gone days.
The very ambitious goals were outlined as part of the very colourful and excellently presented document produced by the Premier Plan Steering Group which was Chaired by County Board Secretary Timmy Floyd. He, together with members Ger Ryan, Micahel Bourke, Ed Donnelly, John Smith, Dinny Maher and Co -Ordinator Denis Floyd, worked on the plan over the last twelve months or so, and brought forward the content to a packed Dome, with representatives of all the clubs of the county in attendance.
In introducing the evening, Ger Ryan described the plan as a strategic blueprint for the seventy two clubs in the county and said that it would chart the next five years and give defined goals and aims for the Board, clubs, team managements and players.
Joey Carton and Pat Fitzgerald of the Munster Council were in attendance as was Ciaran Leddan of Croke Park - their presence emphasised the importance of such a plan which follows on from similar national and provincial documents also.
Tim Floyd told delegates that every club in the county is represented in the plan which stemmed from a Club Forum held back in January 2010. One of elements which stands out is the amount of physical development which has taken place across the county as clubs availed of grants from Munster Council, Croke Park and the National Lottery to good affect.
He also lauded the direction signage project which was undertaken across the county on a pilot basis having been driven forward by John Ryan (Holycross Ballycahill).
County Board Chairman Barry O’Brien told delegates that the county now faces a major challenge to move forward and act upon the 126 page plan. He cited a number of areas which need to be discussed, investigated and perhaps addressed, including: underage games in clubs; the number of clubs in senior hurling; and the whole notion of having four divisions.
“I am not saying that we should do away with the divisions or anything like that, but I am saying that we need to look at our system and see where we are going. Perhaps we need to embrace the notion of divisional teams in the county as well in the senior hurling championship. All of these things need to be addressed and now we have a plan to look at them all,” said the Chairman who added that for a long number of years, the GAA has invested in structures and facilities - now it is time to invest in people.
Archbsihop Dermot Clifford, Patron of the GAA was very impressed with the plan and the manner in which it was presented. He hoped that the plan would be implimented and paid tribute to all those who expended huge amounts of time on it.
The Premier Plan is set out in six sections and examines areas such as Games, Premier Clubs, Social Issues, Planning, Financial Excellence, and Communications, PR and Marketing.
And, GAA President Christy Cooney identified one area of the plan which is unique to Tipperary - a section on inter county team management has been included in no other strategic plan in the country, according to the Uachtarain who was very impressed with Tipperary’s work.
“This was not an easy job but it is a very very important document. It will challenge and engage you and the big thing for you now is to make this plan your own and to impliment it. I applaud your clubs for the wonderful work done over the decades in Tipperary and I think it is fair to say that this is The Premier Plan,” said Christy Cooney who also was very impressed by the desire to increase volunteerism and personnel by 20% during the course of the plan.
The vision for the future envisages a Centre of Excellence at Dr Morris Park with fantastic developmental, social and physical training facilities in place at the three field base for use by county teams across both codes.
It outlines areas of development within Semple Stadium and points to the need to re-roof Ardan Ui Riain, improve terracing, up-grade seats in Ardan Ui Cuinneain, introduce guided tours of the stadium and a whole range of other recommendations. It also points to the possibility of hosting a County Board sponsored fundraising venture in 2012 in Semple Stadium.
A copy of the plan has been presented to each club in the county with a suggested template for clubs to devise similar plans of their own.
Denis Floyd explained in detail how this chould be done and encouraged clubs to take ownership of the plan and to run with it.