Treacys at crossroads

LURGAN hurling club, Sean Treacys, are attempting a campaign of reinvention leading up to their 40th anniversary in 2013.

Faced with several difficult periods over the space of four decades, and having to compete against the mass of a thriving Gaelic football powerbase, the Treacys, held together by a small group of dedicated personnel, may feel that recent events are threatening their very existence.

“We didn’t field at underage level this season from under-12 to Minor,” lamented the Lurgan side’s chairman Cathal Austin whose late father Dermot was a GAA stalwart in every sense of the word.

Competing against the football fraternity is a yearly task which Treacys members and players have become accustomed to. In fairness, they are given little leeway by a minority of townsfolk who may have a self-centred attitude in the promotion of a ‘football only’ mindset.

“We don’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” stressed Cathal Austin, who along with his hard working committee are stressing that their under pressure club are “at a crossroads” and apprehensive about the future.

“We would love to see more people coming forward to help with the management and coaching of teams,” said the Treacys chairman. “It wouldn’t be crucial for coaches or helpers to be hurling people. We currently have indoor sessions each Friday night which all of the youngsters enjoy but with more assistance over the coming year, Sean Treacys can be ready to face the future with confidence.”

Following an scheme implemented by the then GAA President Alf Murray in the sixties to promote hurling in Lurgan, Sean Treacys formed their first committee in 1973 which included Mick McShane, Noel Loughran and Brendan McKinley. Currently their youth coaches, who include Collie McCrory, Kelly Laverty, John Carbine and Leo Laverty, are putting in the hours and with more help over the forthcoming months the Treacys could have a new start as they approach their 40th year in existence.

So, is Hurling, in Lurgan in general and at Sean Treacys, reviving or declining, and can a small hurling club nestling in a football dominated town look towards the future with hope or trepidation?

Cathal Austin answered the questions this week asked by the ‘Mail’ in an indepth interview as his club look for assistance entering their historical year of 2013.

What are the challenges faced by a Hurling club in Lurgan and how do you cope?

Major issues facing the Club would be pressure on underage players and a lack of people committed to the club – don’t get me wrong, the small number we have are very committed but most people have too much on their plate – we need help.

We struggle with the appeal and peer pressure kids come under to play football and not hurling. But they are not mutually exclusive. You can play both – it needs understanding and co–operation for coaches in both roles. There is a young enthusiastic committee with the Club with hurling in their hearts and they are determined to keep it going. We are indebted to Clann Eireann for all their help and assistance, but in recent years Sarsfields and Clan na Gael have also lent assistance when needed.

So what is the dream at underage level?

At the start of 2012 we set ourselves a goal to completely transform our club. Step one was getting our U6s, U8s and U10s established.

Next year we want to field at U12, U14 and U16 – hence the Friday night promotion at Centrepoint. We have a development event coming up in November chaired by Gerry Holloway. We want anyone with any connection past or present or no connection at all to attend this to help rejuvenate hurling in Lurgan at underage Level – we will publicise this when we know the date – we are working with county officials to confirm availability.

How strict are health and safety guidelines implemented and what are the associated costs in kitting out a youth team?

In terms of health and safety, strict child protection and safety guidelines are followed and the GAA rules regarding helmets is observed at all grades. There needn’t be any immediate cost to parents for equipment as we provide it. However kids being kids will want their own stuff, but I’d advise parents to wait - they make great presents!

Do you have any upcoming events or celebrations?

2013 sees our 40th Anniversary and we hope to have a gala dinner and lots of other activities. This is still in the planning.

How would you appeal to fellow Gaels?

I wouldn’t want to whinge, I would say Sean Tracey’s and hurling is alive and has plans for the future in Lurgan. We want football clubs and parents to see us not as competition – but fellow Gaels. We are determined that our club will grow, we need and want help in this endeavour and we want people to know we are here promoting the National Game.