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O’Sullivan to address challenge of motivating and maintaining female youth participation
Irish Olympian, athlete and former camogie player Sonia O’Sullivan joined GAA stars Richie Hogan, Louise O’ Hara, Paddy O'Rourke and Laura McEneaney to launch the 2015 Liberty Insurance GAA National Games Development Conference. The theme for the conference, which will take place in Croke Park on January 9th and 10th, is “Putting Youth into Perspective” and aims to address issues related to youth players that are of most concern and interest to members of the GAA community.
Sonia O’Sullivan is the Liberty Insurance guest speaker at the conference, and will be presenting on how to motivate and maintain female youth participation in sport. On top of her stellar athletics career, Sonia has also served as Chef de Mission for the Irish team at the London Olympics, and as manager of the Australian team at the World Cross Country Championships in 2008.
Speaking at today’s launch, O'Sullivan said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this year's Liberty Insurance Games Development Conference in January; coaching to a high standard is key in developing and maintaining participation levels in sport, and especially among youths. I'm looking forward to sharing some of my experiences from Ireland and Australia on how to motivate and encourage young people to stay involved in sport, and also meeting some of the other guest speakers and conference delegates in what should be both an informative and enjoyable day".
Run as a partnership between all of the Gaelic Games Associations, the Conference will offer the 700 delegates attending an opportunity to access talks relating to key coaching issues in hurling/camogie, Gaelic football/Ladies Gaelic football, Handball and Rounders which are specifically related to the teenage player.
The impressive line-up of speakers will feature coaches from the world of Gaelic Games, players, teachers, coaches and international speakers, including speakers from all Gaelic games backgrounds.
Former Inter County coaches Anthony Daly and Jim McGuinness provide some of the highlights of the conference. Jim McGuinness will present via a special video link as work commitments mean he is unable to attend in person. Anthony Daly will reflect on his time as a senior coach, and consider the importance of the youth age group and the impact on coaches further up the line.
In an innovative opening session, Former Kerry Senior Football manager Pat O’Shea and Games Development Manager for Kilkenny, Brian Ryan, will provide some insight into the successes of their Counties, with UCC economist and GAA coach John Considine will investigate the relationship between underage and adult success.
For the second year, Liberty Insurance – the official coaching partner of the GAA – sponsor the event. One of Ireland’s foremost athletes Sonia O’Sullivan is the Liberty Insurance special guest speaker. On top of her stellar athletics career, Sonia has also served as Chef de Mission for the Irish team at the London Olympics, and as manager of the Australian team at the World Cross Country Championships in 2008.
Each year the Friday night session of the two day event involves a bespoke session; this year’s event will focus on coach education with the first Coach Educators forum, which will feature a number of the leading coach educators who will outline the future of the development of coaches within the Association. 
There will be a number of practically applied sessions. A club case study will be provided by the members of the Ballyboden St Enda’s GAA Club in Dublin, who will identify how they have attempted to increase their coaching capacity within the club through a unique and innovative youth development programme. Ger Downes (Games Development Administrator, Limerick City) and Liam Cronin (GAA Coordinator in Árd Scoil Rís, Limerick) will speak about the hurling revolution within the school, and Limerick City generally. 
Launching the Conference, Uachtarán CLG, Liam Ó Néill said:
“The Liberty Insurance GAA Games Development Conference has developed a very loyal following amongst coaches across the Association. It is a must attend event for anyone with an interest in how we promote our activities and the ongoing development of our players. In the Irish sporting sphere this event is unrivalled; the range of speakers attending this year underlines the standard we have to come to expect from it year in, year out.
“Over the last 12 months I have instigated a review of activities for minor and related age groups; the Liberty Insurance GAA Games Development Conference will focus on many of the issues and propose a number of pioneering solutions for players and coaches of this age group.”
Aileen Lawlor, President of the Camogie Association said: 
"This annual conference is eagerly awaited by players mentors and coaches, and is always a great initiative to kick start the New Year.
The theme of this year’s Liberty Insurance Coaching and Games Development Forum is focusing on coaching and inspiring youth players aged 13-18.Guest speaker Sonia O' Sullivan will address the challenges of motivation and maintaining female youth participation on what is a very popular topic.
The quality and experience of all of the guest speakers lined up for the weekend is second to none, they will hit all of the key issues faced by clubs and counties today in the promotion and development of Gaelic Games in their particular areas."
Speaking at the launch, Annette Ni Dhathlaoí, Head of Marketing for Liberty Insurance said:
“As Official Partner of the GAA Coaching Programme, Liberty Insurance is committed to the promotion and development of coaching initiatives. We’re delighted that Sonia will be our guest speaker at this year’s Conference, who brings with her a wealth of experience to share with the GAA coaching community".
Reflecting the partnership approach in the organisation of this year’s Conference, Aileen Lawlor, President Camogie), Liam de Roiste (President, GAA Handball) Pat Quill (President, Ladies Gaelic Football Association) and Joe O’Donoghue (President, Rounders Association) were also in attendance.
The cost of attending is €50 and further information on registering to attend the Conference can be obtained by phone at 01-8658625, by emailing or at
Click here to download the Conference Brochure.

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