Ulster Vocational Schools Group

All the contributors to this group interview have played a prominent role in the development of Gaelic games within Ulster Vocational Schools. Many have enjoyed a high profile careers as inter-county players and mentors, but the focus here remains on the work of the schools and their association with it. Together, they chart the expansion of the Vocational schools system in North of Ireland and the impact this had not only on extending educational opportunities for pupils, but on the potential use of the system for the development of hurling and gaelic football. They explain the emergence of an inter-county Vocational schools competition and mentions the most successful counties. The Vocational school system expanded significantly over time and the role they played in counties such as Antrim, Donegal, Monaghan and Down is discussed. Alongside the impact that Gaelic games school had on individual lives and school status, the interviewees consider the influence of Vocational schools on the fortunes of McCrory Cup Colleges teams, as well as those of various county minor and senior teams. The focus of much of the interview is on Gaelic football, although hurling receive a mention, in particular the geographical characteristics of the game in Ulster. The interview does not limit itself to maters historical; contemporary developments are also addressed. There is a discussion around various issues, including the future of the Vocational school system; competition from other sports; the attitudes of younger teachers; lack of comprehension or appreciation on the part of Croke park administration for the work of the Vocational schools; divergences in approach to Gaelic games between Vocational school north and south; the impact of Ulster bank sponsorship and other development on raising the profile of the Vocational schools game in Ulster.

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