NEWLY installed GAA President John Horan has made a number of high profile appointments in recent days, including that of Castleknock GAA man, Jimmy O’Dwyer, as Head of Hurling Development, writes Paddy Hewson.
O’Dwyer, whose association with Castleknock dates back to 2007, was taken aback by the appointment.
Speaking to Dublin Gazette, he said his first reaction to the phone call was that of “total surprise, I wasn’t expecting it”.
Not having sought out the office, he was still clearly excited at the prospect of helping to steer the course of the game that he loves.
Unassuming and soft spoken, the Tipperary native comes to the role with a life-long passion for hurling, and a CV that reveals experience in GAA coaching and administration which makes him a choice few could argue with.
With participation in Gaelic games at the core of his philosophy he oversaw the hugely successfully GAA “Cul Camps” as national co-ordinator.
Back in 1978 as a young teacher in the Bishop Galvin National school in Templeogue he was one of the founder members of St Jude’s club. Football was first to blossom there and hurling soon followed.
O’Dwyer recounts a story from those days familiar to those who have been involved with fledging clubs.
“We started hurling in a very modest way; Thursday night was hurling night, we spread the word out through the schools and dropping into houses. Anyone who had any interest at all in hurling, from eight to 80, was invited down to the field.”
Whilst the genesis of the Tipp man’s influence on hurling in Dublin might not have originated in Castleknock the Somerton Club were glad to claim him for themselves.
Involved with Castleknock over the past ten years, most recently with the minor section, the seeds of his recruitment were actually sown in the early 1970s when, in his first teaching post in Finglas, he encountered Erin’s Isle player and part of the Dublin’s 1976 all Ireland winning panel, Johnny Corcoran.
Later to be one of the co-founders of Castleknock GAA, Corcoran convinced O’Dwyer to get involved. “I had no intention of getting involved with Castleknock but Johnny (Corcoran) heard I was around and that was it!”
Still unravelling the full dimensions of his new role as Head of Hurling Development, his initial thoughts are “we need to protect the game where it is strong, making sure there is no slippage in those counties.
“We need to grow the game, there are some places where hurling isn’t even on people’s radar, there are lots of clubs where there isn’t even a hurling section, and we need to look at that”.