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24 May 2022

Tipp looking to the Premiership to become the premier county again

Liam Hennessy.

Liam Hennessy - the director of Setanta College.

Des Ryan and Liam Hennessy of Setanta bring huge experience to the Tipp set-up 

Tipperary County GAA Board has entered a unique partnership agreement with Thurles based Setanta College to help bring strength and conditioning of all players to a new premier level.


The programme will draw on the experience garnered from top soccer clubs including Bayern Munich and Arsenal, while also linking back to a very successful era for the Premier County which helped to deliver the 1991 Munster and All-Ireland titles under Michael Babs Keating and his backroom team which included Liam Hennessy.


Liam is the founder of Setanta, which is based on the LIT Tipperary campus at the Racecourse Road, Thurles and together with Des Ryan and their team, they will deliver an unrivalled S&C programmme for all Tipperary players.


Secretary of the County Board,Tim Floyd in his annual report told delegates at the annual Convention that:
“With a greater emphasis on physical development Tipperary Co Board are investing in a new partnership with Setanta College from 2022. This has already commenced at Juvenile level plus Minor and U20 squads and will extend into senior level once the 2022 panels are finalized.


“Setanta College was the brainchild of former Tipperary Senior Hurling Trainer Liam Hennessy who founded it as “Peak fitness” in 1999 and was re-launched as “Setanta” in 2006. From its roots Setanta has developed from delivering coaching education to Olympic Council of Ireland to working with some of the world’s leading sporting organizations across multiple countries and continents including Juventus and Pittsburgh Steelers. Setanta now delivers strength and conditioning and human performance education from the bottom up to degree and master level and have over 55,000 graduates worldwide in locations like the UK, USA, South Africa and India.


“In Ireland the broader Setanta team have been involved in most counties across Hurling, Gaelic Football and Camogie and in 2021 alone five leading hurling counties worked with Setanta coaches.


Setanta have been working with Tipperary GAA in recent years through the Development Squads, educating of coaches and the provision of facilities and equipment. Last year during the Covid 19 lockdown, Setanta and the Tipperary GDA’s delivered a highly successful remote youth athletic development program.


The Secretary went on to offer the view that Tipperary hurling and football is currently in a transition period and this is an ideal time to plan an advanced, Elite Athletic Development Structure to put the Premier County in a position to challenge for major honors in the coming seasons.


“This new partnership will see the county implementing an integrated approach that will cover both hurling and football across all grades. Central to the partnership will be the design and delivery of long-term development programmes by coaches from Setanta who will oversee the Strength and Conditioning for Tipperary senior hurling and football teams. This will include access to the facilities, equipment, and technology in Setanta’s Elite performance facility at the Sarsfields Centre beside Semple Stadium.


“This will mark a new approach by Tipperary GAA, which aims to create a joined-up structure that will prepare players for the transition from underage to senior level. Up to now, S&C development programmes were delivered to teams separately by their independent coaching staff. The Setanta Coaching team will be led by Des Ryan, who was formerly head of Sports Science and medicine at the Arsenal F.C Academy and is now Director of Coaching and Performance at Setanta College. Des will be supported in the design and execution of the Program by Founder Dr Liam Hennessy who has vast experience having been previously involved as head fitness coach with Bayern Munich and the Irish Rugby team as well as S&C coach with the Tipperary All Ireland team of 1991.

Pictured above: Des Ryan


“Both Des and Liam have previously led Youth Development Structures across all sports, and they will oversee a team of 12 experienced S&C coaches as part of the implementation process. Many Tipperary coaches are graduates of Setanta College including current senior hurling manager Colm Bonner and coach Tommy Dunne. Current Minor hurling S&C coach Angelo Walsh is also a graduate, as is his recently retired inter-county club mate Brendan Maher who now operates his own Gym in Borris-Ileigh GAA Complex.


The Proposal:
The main programme has already commenced with the under-age academies in October 2021, and this will run right through to the conclusion of the championships in July 2022. Tipperary
County Board will pay Setanta an agreed monthly amount and this will remove most obligations from Tipperary GAA paying S&C coaches directly for their services.


Elite Performance Centre:
Setanta will provide access to the facilities, equipment, and technology at the Setanta location beside Semple Stadium and more recently the facility at the Thurles Handball Centre in Semple Stadium. These includes an Elite S&C Gym, over €250k of Biometric Analysis Coaching Technology and a variety of additional training equipment.


Stakeholder engagement:
Programme Director, Des Ryan will deliver an in depth on boarding session to players and coaches while also delivering CPD workshops to upskill and educate all parties across various topics.


Testing Assessment Screening:
Setanta will commence with full fitness testing, biological maturation assessment and movement screening. In depth analysis and reporting will be done with feedback to all stakeholders. All testing will be repeated throughout the programme.


Athletic Development:
Setanta will design, develop and deliver all components relating to the Athletic Development Program covering stability & mobility, speed, Athletic Development and endurance. This will be delivered by expert practitioners.


County Board chairman Joe Kennedy said in his address to Convention: “This is a new approach that will have a co-ordinated structure and will prepare all our players in both codes to develop and transition from youth to adult level. Setanta College is a world leader in the delivery of athletic development programs and led by Des Ryan, this partnership will have major benefits for all Tipperary teams in the future.

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