As Tipperary prepare for two All Ireland finals in the space of two weeks, the county unveiled a new blueprint to bring even greater success to the Premier County.
The historic appearance in both the senior hurling and minor football finals is a unique event but Tipperary is not resting on its laurels and last week launched a five year plan to further enhance Gaelic games in the county.
Appropriately called the Premier Plan, it sets out goals and objectives up to 2015 that will lay the foundation for an even brighter future for the GAA in the county.
The time to plan for the future is when you are doing well, the launch was told in the Dome at Semple Stadium last Thursday night.
GAA president Christy Cooney said earlier that evening they had watched the senior hurlers train for the All Ireland final and the minor footallers’ great win in Croke Park the previous Sunday meant Tipp was chasing a unique double.
“The time to challenge ourselves is when we are on top. Unfortunately it didn’t happen in this country when the economy was booming.
“But you are doing it in Tipperary. Even though you are about to appear in your third All Ireland senior hurling final a row, you are still prepared to look at hurling structures in the county. You have a challenge here if you want Tipperary to remain where it is and even become better and you must face that challenge.
“If the structures are not right you must change then and do what is right for your county”.
Mr Cooney said he had made similar proposals himself in his native Cork fifteen years ago but they had been ‘shot out of the water’ because people were happy with the way things were. Only now are those changes taking place.
He also congratulated Tipperary on their approach to appointing county team managers and the work done behind the planning and preparation that went into that.
“This is a great initiative and isn’t happening anywhere else”, Mr Cooney said.
The Premier Plan has been drawn up over the past two years, under the chairmanship of County Secretary Tim Floyd with his brother Denis as co-ordinator.
It puts the focus on development, structures, policies and organisation up to 2015 and also provides a template for the county’s 72 clubs to carry out similar projects.
County chairman Barry O’Brien said Tipperary had a brilliant future but had decisions had to be made to ensure it.
“We must address issues that have been pushed aside over the years”, pointing that the plan will look at underage structures, the number of senior hurling clubs and the divisional set-up.
“We are already in a very strong position and we take great pride in the fact that we have teams involved on both All Ireland finals days in September. I set out my vision for Tipp football that we would be in an All Ireland senior final by 2020 and we can achieve that goal but we must drive on.
“We must concentrate on the development of people and not so much on infrastructure. We have wonderful facilities but with money short we must spent it on people, training and education”, he told the gathering.
Games Manager with Munster Council Joey Carton agreed that there is no better time to develop such as plan as when you are in a position of strength as Tipperary are now.
“This will strengthen you even more in Tipperary and I know you won’t be found wanting implementing the plan.
The work starts now, this is a living plan and action plan”.
Patron of the GAA and Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford, who now has responsibility for the Diocese of Cloyne where a controversial report on clerical sex abuse was recently published, said if you have a plan you should adhere to it - something that hadn’t happened in an area where he had responsibility.
Summing up, Christy Cooney told club delegates that without clubs there would be no Tipperary teams and they woulnd’t be preparing for two All Ireland finals as they are now.
“But don’t be complaceent, this is your future so go and deliver”.