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Initiative designed to help Ulster succeed

By John Campbell

There has been no significant All-Ireland success for Ulster in either football or hurling this year but this should not be allowed to cloud the fact that the GAA is taking decisive strides forward in the province.

A new Strategic Plan that will incorporate the period 2014-2020 is being finalised by the Ulster Council and the ambitious blueprint embodies a number of initiatives designed to further nurture gaelic games within the province.

A similar five-year Ulster GAA plan was drawn up in 2009 but has now been completed one year ahead of schedule.

Ulster Council officials, conscious that All-Ireland successes in any code and at any level serve to further nurture the Association here, are nonetheless pressing forward with the aim of putting their six-year plan into the public domain as soon as possible.

The Council's Head of Public Affairs Ryan Feeney outlines the benefits that have accrued from the initial plan that was launched in 2009 and was at that point in time perceived to be too far-thinking in some quarters.

"The fact of the matter is that in the past four years some £60m have been spent on infrastructure and development and there has been a ten per cent rise in participation rates within the Association as a whole in Ulster," reveals Feeney.

"It is worth remembering that this process has been achieved against the background of a serious recession.

"The fact that we completed what was initially a five-year plan within a four-year term serves as the best encouragement for us to set our sights on our detailed six-year blueprint that will take us up to 2020."

Feeney also points out that the governance of clubs in the province has improved considerably and that a number of initiatives, notably those emanating from the Integration Committee, have met with a robust response.

"It is great to see the GAA moving forward and to be reaching out to other communities but it's important too that we are seen to be competing at the highest levels," states Feeney.

"Obviously there is a little disappointment that Ulster has not gained any major All-Ireland honours this year but the real success of the GAA here has to be measured in the participation levels within the many, many units that come under the Association's umbrella."

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