Sustaining clubs and steering the province safely through complex post-Brexit and current Covid-19 times are chief targets expressed by Ulster GAA bosses ahead of their fifth strategic plan launch.

The plan, entitled 'Sustaining Clubs and Building Capacity, 2021-23' was publicly unveiled by the Council today after being compiled by its strategic planning committee, chaired by Professor David Hassan.

"Arguably it has never been more important than it is now, to safeguard and support our clubs," says Ulster president, Oliver Galligan.

The province’s CEO, Brian McAvoy, outlined how this document will chart a strategic direction for Ulster GAA over the next three years.

"The planning process commenced in late 2018 and the Covid-19 pandemic stopped us in our tracks," McAvoy said.

"It has made us look at things differently and has created a heightened sense of awareness amongst us all. Ulster GAA is unique in that its affiliated units cross two political jurisdictions.

"There is now a much deeper complication in that one third of our counties are in the European Union, but two-thirds of our counties are not.

"This strategic plan incorporates the ‘early years’ of this new dynamic. How much this will impact us remains to be seen – but one thing is certain; things have just got a little more complex!

"However, our resilience has shone through during the pandemic, but we are now in a different space. We are adapting to a ‘new normal’ and, yes, while we want to expand and flourish, remaining as ambitious as we ever have been, we have to be mindful that we must, first and foremost, protect what we have and ensure the very fundamentals of our wonderful Association. ‘Sustainability’ is therefore the overriding thread that runs through this plan."

With more than 300 clubs and 250,000 volunteer members and players, Ulster GAA have highlighted four themes in their latest roadmap.

The first centres on improving opportunities for participation and performance in Gaelic Games within the province.

In this regard the plan will look at issues from both rural and urban perspectives, support counties to develop a comprehensive games development programme and integrated player pathway model which is inclusive of participation, talent development and high performance.

A second theme identified is supporting and developing volunteers and administrators within the province.

This will incorporate a clear division of training responsibilities being drawn up, training priorities for administrators and volunteers, identifying technologies and learning approaches that will enhance development and the possible appointment of a dedicated HR Manager for Ulster GAA. As well as the development of an online mental health training course for volunteers.

The third area the plan looks at is governance and operational excellence.

The target is to ensure structures are in place to safeguard clubs, counties, and the provincial council and to assist counties and clubs to do the right things in the right way and by the right time. All counties within Ulster will be asked to identify areas for the development and promotion of the GAA.

The final theme in this report centres around the areas of communication and wider civic engagement.

This will look at the positioning of the GAA and its unique status within the wider community as well as improving communication of the council’s role in Ulster to all stakeholders. There will be a push to strengthen Irish cultural expression through the further normalisation of the Irish Language and further enhancement of Scór while inclusivity and community outreach will also be promoted.