The Paudie Kissane column: Crucial time for GAA coaches to reflect on where they can adapt and move forward

The Paudie Kissane column: Crucial time for GAA coaches to reflect on where they can adapt and move forward
Anthony O'Connor and Seamus Hickey, Duhallow, battle Micheal McSweeney, Newcestown. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THERE will be new senior football champions in Cork this year as it is Duhallow versus Nemo Rangers on Sunday at Páirc Uí Rinn.

These teams would have been in many pundits’ top two at the start of the year. It has the making of a cracking final with two sides that play some excellent football.

Moral victories are no good to anyone but Newcestown will look back positively in time at the great winning run they had in the championship this year. For a group that didn’t have a coach early in the year, it was some turnaround. Credit must go to Brian and Colm O'Driscoll, they came on board in August and had a crucial impact.

There was some fortune with the club’s senior hurlers being defeated in the second round, which allowed sole focus on the football. The structure of the club championship creates this opportunity to progress later in the season as the real championship doesn’t start until August.

No one likes laziness, poor commitment, and players not buying into the team ethos. These are common issues with teams under-performing. As much as the fitness of inter-county players is advancing every year, there are a percentage of club players where general fitness is a big issue not mind performance.

The long summer break though from the first round to your next game does provide a chance for teams to improve their preparation. This leads to better potential for performance come the restart of the championship.

Douglas will be very disappointed with their semi-final loss to Nemo Rangers. In advance of the game, many would have given Douglas a great chance considering the talent at their disposal. When you play against the likes of Nemo at this time of year, mediocre will not do and the performance was just not good enough.

In other news, the GAA are reviewing the stance of the Maor Foirne. There have been too many disciplinary cases in recent seasons on the Maor Foirne leading to a review of its role. I have performed this role many times. Once the game starts, trust and responsibility needs to be handed over to the players. Players have a role to perform and they then must strive to complete it as best they can.

Within that framework, there will be times where it is important that a message must get from the sideline to a player or team. On occasions, this can be feedback first from the player themselves, which is what you want considering they sometimes have the best view on what’s happening on the pitch.

Most people performing the role as Maor Foirne would acknowledge that they don’t want to be on the field. It’s just depending on the flow of a game it can sometimes be a necessity.

Depending on coaching experience, this person many decide what message needs to be delivered. In other instances, it can be delivering a message based on what the management team have discussed on the sideline or what the analysts or coaches have viewed from high up in the stand.

Certainly in this role, it is a case of less is more. Constant roaring can just be noise and a distraction for the players. The first point to check is are the players actually hearing what is being said. Is there eye contact?

The case may be argued that there is no Maor Foirne in rugby for example. As you will see in the World Cup there are many messages being delivered when there are stoppages in the game due to injury or before a conversion. In rugby then there are longer stoppages compared to both Gaelic games which make makes it more suitable to take advantage of the breaks in play.

Similar to player discipline, Croke Park just needs to come down strong on any serious infractions. If a backroom person is deliberately interfering with play or is jostling with opposition members on the sideline, then a suspension is hardly unfair.

This time of year with county finals upon us, only a few are lucky still to be involved with teams in physical preparation or coaching.

The weather and pitches may be deteriorating but there is nowhere else you would want to be.

Many other coaches and strength-and-conditioning personnel meanwhile are reflecting on the year gone by. Well you certainly hope so as if things don’t change, lessons are not learned then there may be no further improvement in performance.

A coach needs to assess their own performance and identify possible areas for improvement so can they develop further as a coach. This may involve numerous areas at club level but it must be done.

It could be game management, warm-ups, communication, weekly planning, reducing risk of injury, or integrating the technical and tactical with the fitness components. The list is endless but the key is being clear in where you think you need to improve.

Coach education courses are a formal starting point in the journey but from here workshops on different topics should be attended. It may not be directly related to Gaelic Games, but you always come away having learned something, or with just a different view on things.

There are many informal opportunities to develop also. Just discussing a coaching or fitness topic casually can open the mind to another way of doing things. This may be with a friend, coaching colleague, or even getting a mentor.

Coaches need a break to recharge the batteries for the new season. Don’t take too long as there may be missed opportunities for development.
Contact: @paudiekissane or visit

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