370 players attend GPA Rookie Camp Events in December and January
370 players new inter-county panel members who attended the GPA’s 2024 Season of Rookie Camps which were held in Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Sligo over the last six weeks. This year the GPA Rookie Camps were brought on a National Roadshow to each province, following the success of camps in Limerick and Dublin in 2023.
The was the sixth year of the camps, which are aimed at helping young players in their first, second or third year on a senior inter-county panel, to adapt to the new demands they are facing and also at showcasing the support they have at their disposal through the GPA.
The events all enjoyed alternative areas of focus, all of which align with the GPA’s vision of creating an environment that upholds the brilliance of our inter-county players and games, allowing them to excel as high-performing athletes on the pitch and in their lives off the pitch. .”
Use the descriptions below as relevant per the regional release…
The Belfast GPA Rookie Camp pre-Christmas focussed on resilience and emotional wellbeing. Attendees heard the personal story from former Leeds schoolboy footballer, Peter Mitchell. He suffered life-changing injuries and was left paralysed following a road collision in which he was a back seat passenger as an 18-year-old.
Peter shared the remarkable of how he has gone on to represent his country in wheelchair basketball and has appeared in soaps such as Coronation Street and Hollyoaks. He now works as a football scout for Burnley Football Club. Peter spoke about how adversity can be used as an opportunity with the right mindset and inspired all attendees.
Rookies were also treated to a panel discussion with Vikki Wall (Meath Football and Ireland Rugby), Paddy Burke (Antrim Hurling) and Neasa Byrd (Cavan Footballer and previous Rookie Camp Attendee).
The Cork GPA Rookie Camp, which was hosted in the pristine Páirc Úi Chaoimh, saw attendees introduced to Clare dual star Podge Collins and Offaly footballer Niall McNamee. Podge’s workshop focussed on financial literacy, guiding rookies on how to be ‘good with money’ as a student. He also gave tips that can help create a lifelong mindset shift when dealing with finances.
Niall McNamee shared his story of gambling addiction and how support from the GPA has supported his recovery and allowed him to fulfil life on and off the pitch. A panel discussion was also hosted by the GPA’s Head of Communications, Kieran McSweeney, with current players Dan Morrissey (Limerick Hurling), Maria Curley (Tipperary Football) and Damien Cahalane (Cork Hurling). The panel shared insight into their experiences of their inter-county careers.
The Dublin Rookie Camp saw GPA Rookies introduced to social media expert Kieran File. The session focussed on newcomers’ online identities, probing members on how they come across online and on how they can be perceived and taken advantage of in a digital world. Players were treated to a panel discussion hosted by Antrim Hurler and Let’s Face It podcast host Domhnall Nugent. He spoke to Michelle Teehan (Kilkenny Camogie), Kieran Lillis (Laois Football) and Evan Comerford (Dublin footballer and previous Rookie Camp attendee) about their experiences as young inter-county players. They also shared advice on the challenges and obstacles they experienced.
Sligo Park Hotel was the venue for the final event of this season’s Rookie Camp programme. Attendees learned the art of journaling from CARVER Coaching Performance Framework expert Paul Kilgannon. Paul focussed on the positive impact journalling can have on performance on and off the field of play.
This was followed by a panel discussion where Fiona McHale (Mayo Football), Niamh Kilkenny (Galway Camogie) and Neil Ewing (Sligo Football) shared their experiences of dealing with coping with the unique environment of the senior inter-county dressing room with GPA Head of Communications Kieran McSweeney.
Speaking about the event GPA Player Development Manager Arron Graffin said; “Being invited to be part of a senior inter-county panel can be both an exciting and nervy experience for young players. This transition can be difficult to manoeuvre at times, therefore it is vitally important that these young players have self-awareness of how being your best off-the-field has a direct link to being your best on-the-field. These future Gaelic Games stars strive to be high performing inter-county athletes and here, at the GPA, we want to support and assist our members to focus on life balance so they are best equipped to deal with the challenges that they will face during their sporting career”