County Talent Academies have existed in a range of different guises over the last 25 years, with the focus of the academy varying from County to County. The vision for the Academies is “To develop and prepare highly skilled young players to play for Counties and the broader Club and School Game, supported by an effective, well trained workforce of coaches and other personnel, delivered within a strong partnership of County Boards, Clubs and Schools.’ The County Academy system is sub-divided into Schools of Excellence (SoE) at U14/15 years and Development Squads (DS) at U16/17 years. There are a number of distinct differences between the Schools of Excellence and Development squads, based on their focus, structure and player recruitment.
Schools of Excellence – U14/15
Aim: To introduce a broad number of players on an open ended basis to high quality coaching with peers from different clubs. This programme will educate and provide the player with the experience of quality training to support their development in a progressive manner. The programme will support Club and School programmes and not overload the participant. At this level the focus will be on introducing all interested youths to the Academy system.
Development Squads – U16/17
Aim: To develop a more exclusive number of players to standards suitable for selection on Inter-County Minor and Adult Club Teams. Dedication and lifestyle parameters towards transfer to elite performance should be emphasised. At this stage, the squads will operate on the basis of selecting a smaller group of players to further develop on the pathway to elite performance.