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Ulster Council deserves full praise for outstanding strategic progress

By Joe Kernan

The officers in all four provincial Councils remind us from time to time of their heavy work-load, particularly in areas relating to the promotion of football and hurling at grassroots level.

There is no doubt indeed that much good work is undertaken by all the provincial bodies on the island but I feel that the Ulster Council shoulders an extra burden of responsibility.

As well as sharing core tasks with the other Councils such as coaching initiatives, improving facilities at grounds, staging their annual competitions and undertaking robust marketing concepts, the Ulster body has another important duty to fulfil through its active Integration Committee.

This body has been doing excellent work in the recent past in terms of reaching out to people from a non-GAA background in the hope of kindling their interest in the sports under the Association’s banner.

This was only one segment of the Council’s work under the ambitious five-year plan drawn up in 2009.

Such has been the commitment of the Council’s professional staff and the many volunteers who are the lifeblood of the Association that all targets outlined in that plan have now been met and a new plan embracing the 2014-2020 period will shortly be unveiled to the public.

To me, this is real progress. When note is taken of the quality of the grounds in Ulster, the impressive floodlighting that

has been installed, the inspirational coaching initiatives that have been undertaken and the ambitious Casement Park refurbishment project it can be seen that the Council is clearly ahead of the field.

It is worth emphasising that this progress has been made against the backdrop of what has been a depressing recession which has impacted savagely on fund-raising and triggered an exodus of many players from the province.

The feedback from all areas would suggest that the Ulster Council is providing the kind of leadership that is clearly required in an ever-changing society.

The contents of the new Strategic Plan have yet to be unveiled but I have a feeling that they will reflect the go-ahead philosophy which appears to underpin much of the Council’s work.

There is vision, commitment and a sense of adventure attached to what it is trying to achieve and I think that the Council deserves support from all quarters.

Not so long ago, Ulster was perceived to be dragging its feet in certain respects but not any longer.

In contrast, it continues to raise the bar for the other provinces. No less a dignitary than GAA President Liam O’Neill has hailed the work that is going ahead in the province and his message of support will certainly prove a catalyst for much more progress in the foreseeable future.

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