National Hurling Action Plan Workgroup meets with aim of growing hurling

December 04, 2023

A match sliotar lays on the steps ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

A National Hurling Action Plan Workgroup has been established as part of The GAA Strategic Plan 2022-2026 which commits to growing hurling and held their first meeting on Saturday, 2nd December.

The Workgroup is chaired by Colm Nolan of Maynooth GAA and includes personnel from all tiers of hurling.  To understand the challenges facing hurling, it is imperative that the Workgroup is made up of players, administrators, coaches and staff from counties from across hurling and includes representation from the Camogie Association.

Following on from the first meeting of the Workgroup on Saturday, a survey has been created to allow all those interested in the game to have a say on how hurling might be grown and developed. Responses will be factored into the key goal of agreeing a three-year action plan for the growth of the game.

This survey is open until Friday 15th December at 5pm and can be accessed HERE

Welcoming the formation of the group, GAA President Larry McCarthy said: “The formation of this group has been in process since late summer and to ensure that the Association can put in place a series of actions to develop the game of hurling, it is important that those involved are reflective of all the tiers of hurling. As an Association, it is important that any actions coming out of this plan are realistic and I am delighted with the composition of the Workgroup.  All are passionate about the development of hurling, and I look forward to their recommendations. It is also important that we work alongside the Camogie Association, as we face similar challenges and can support each other in creating new opportunities to grow our games.”

The purpose of the Hurling Development Plan Workgroup is to facilitate the formulation of a three-year action plan to sustain and grow Hurling in line with the overarching vision and goals set out in the GAA Strategic Plan - Áontas 2022-2026 and in accordance with the following terms of reference: 

1.         Conduct a review of the findings and recommendations of previous plans, reports, action statements on the game over the past 15 years.

2.         Conduct a review and analysis of current hurling activity at Club, Primary, Post Primary, Higher Education and Inter-County levels across all tiers of the game - but with a special focus on the game in Joe MacDonagh, Christy Ring, Nickey Rackard and Lory Meagher counties.

3.         Review the current Hurley and Helmet Scheme.

4.         Consult with key stakeholders as required. 

5.         Work with Camogie Association identify areas/projects of common interest and cooperation for inclusion in the plan.

6.         Explore and identify ways in which the Camogie Association, the GAA can maximise the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status for the games of camogie and hurling in supporting the implementation of the plan.

7.         Produce a plan for presentation to Central Council on its findings, recommendations, and a roadmap for implementation.

Hurling Development Plan Committee members: Colm Nolan- Kildare- Chairperson; Éibhear O’Dea- Limerick; Kieran Farmer- Fermanagh; Keith Higgins- Mayo; Darragh Cox- Sligo; Joey Carton- Waterford; Kevin Kelly- Derry; Paddy Scales- Offaly; Ryan Gaffney- Armagh- Camogie Representative.


Colm Nolan

Growing up in Dublin Colm played with the St. Oliver Plunkett’s Owen Rua Club before moving to Maynooth, Co. Kildare. A member of the Maynooth GAA Club over 3 decades he has served in many coaching, team management and administrative positions.

Elected Chairman of Maynooth GAA Club between 2008 and 2013, he led the club in the design and installation of a much needed 20-acre new pitch development and ball wall.

He has served as a member of Bord na nÓg Chill Dara and on the Management Committee of the Kildare County Board. He was County Hurling Chairman between 2017 and 2021 and was involved in the development and implementation of the “Kildare Hurling Action Plan”.

He has been involved with a number of County hurling squads as a Coach and Selector and is currently head of performance analysis with the Kildare Senior Hurlers. Colm is still Hurling with the Maynooth Dads & Lads social hurling team.

Éíbhear O’Dea

Éibhear is from the Kilteely Dromkeen club where he was Treasurer, Secretary and Chairman before becoming Development Officer of the Limerick County Board in 2008. He chaired a group that drafted an underage plan for Limerick Hurling in 2009 and acted as Secretary of an Implementation Committee that oversaw the implementation of the plan and the Limerick Underage Hurling academy for many years. Éibhear has also been a member of the Officer Development Committee for the last 6 years and was Secretary of a Munster Development committee for two terms.

Kieran Farmer

Kieran farmer is a former Fermanagh Hurling Secretary and current Vice-Chair of the Ulster Hurling Committee. Kieran is currently the Fermanagh U20 manager and has been manager/ coach of the Lisnaskea senior hurlers and Fermanagh Celtic Challenge team.

Keith Higgins

Keith is a highly distinguished dual player who represented the Mayo Senior Hurlers from 2004 – 2022, winning two Nickey Rackard cups and a number of league titles and represented Mayo Senior Football team from 2005 – 2020, winning eight Connacht titles, four All-Star awards, one National League and one All-Ireland u21 in 2006.

Keith is a Qualified Financial Advisor and has recently taken up a new role as Work Based Learning Programme Development Manager Sport/Fitness Industry, with Atlantic Technological University in April 2023. 

Darragh Cox

Darragh Cox won the Rackard Cup as a player and the Lory Meagher Cup as a manager with his native Sligo, and also won four Connacht Junior titles with his club, Calry/St Joseph's. He is the hurling development officer in Sligo and Leitrim.

Joey Carton

Joey is the current Games Development Manager for Munster GAA with responsibility for Hurling in the province. He comes from the De La Salle club in Waterford City where he has served in many coaching and administrative roles.  Joey has managed all Waterford hurling sides from underage to Senior level, winning an u21 All Ireland in 1992. He has been working within Games Development since 1992.

Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is the current Hurling Development Manager with Ulster GAA and hails from the Baile na Scrine club in Derry. Kevin has played and coached Hurling at club and county level at all age grades and managed Derry Senior Camogie team at the age of 21.

Kevin has a 1st Class Honors degree in sport coaching and has been working in GAA Development since 2004.

Paddy Scales

Paddy is currently the Central Council Delegate for Offaly and a member of Offaly Management, a Member of Comhairle Laighean and a member of Leinster CCC. Paddy became Chairman of Leinster Post Primary Schools Committee in 2023, representing Leinster on the All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Committee.  Paddy is also the Chairman of St. Rynagh's Hurling Club Offaly.

Ryan Gaffney- Camogie Representative

Ryan is from Middletown GAC, Co. Armagh and is the current Participation and Growth coordinator for Ulster Camogie. Ryan has over 14 years’ experience working within Gaelic games with specific focus on developing hurling and Camogie across developing Counties. Ryan has played for Armagh for 16 years captaining his county to Nicky Rackard success in 2012 and won a division 2B National League title in 2016.

In 2020 Ryan graduated from IT Carlow with a Masters in Performance Analysis in Sport where he conducted research examining determinants of success in elite level hurling. Ryan is also currently completing a Professional Doctorate in Human performance and Innovation at the University of Limerick where he is conducting research into determinants of successful attacks in Hurling.

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