Limerick secondary school Ardscoil Rís has announced a renewed and extended partnership with Setanta Athletic Development, a division of Setanta College, focusing on a number of whole school health, wellbeing, and fitness initiatives.

Through this partnership, Setanta will provide comprehensive support to the entire school community encompassing athletic development and educational workshops along with a staff health and wellbeing initiative, as well as parent/guardian workshops. With over 60 staff and 730 students, the school aims to build on its impressive track record in sporting terms while also catering to the wider student base, staff and parents/guardians.

Exciting Initiative

Principal of Ardscoil Rís, Tom Prendergast, said, “Our initial relationship with Setanta began in December 2021 with our Senior Hurlers as an initial introduction to working with Setanta. In March 2022 we won the Croke Cup, the All-Ireland Post-Primary U19A Hurling title, for the first time after a number of near misses. The relationship with Setanta was further built on last year where Setanta worked with all our hurling teams from 1st year to 6th Year. This has been a very positive experience and I’ve been very impressed with the calibre of personnel from Setanta and the relationships they have developed both with our coaches and more importantly with our students.
The Board of Management of Ardscoil Rís has approved the further development and broadening out of the relationship with Setanta College as a whole school initiative. The whole school initiative is now across Hockey, Hurling and Rugby, as well as importantly across the whole school for students from 1st to 6th Year, where all students will benefit from Setanta’s knowledge and expertise in the area of wellbeing, health, and fitness through their PE classes. Our school staff and parents/guardians will also benefit from tailored workshops and initiatives with Setanta.
This is an extremely exciting initiative with Setanta and Ardscoil Ris. We have a well-established reputation for sport in the school but that is only one aspect of our school life. Probably the area that excites me most and is of most interest to me is to work with students who may have fallen out of the routine of playing sport or fallen out of the routine of getting regular exercise whereby we are looking to put something bespoke in place for them to get them back involved in playing sport again with the school or their clubs or simply getting back into the routine of being active, with all the well-established benefits of wellbeing and improved mental health. It may be a challenge but one worth pursuing.”

From left to right: Shane Dunne (Setanta), Liam Cronin (Hurling), Dylan Kenny (Setanta), Cathal Daly (Rugby), Tom Prendergast (Principal), Ian Jones (Setanta), Micheál Cahill (Setanta), Paul Flanagan (Wellbeing and PE), Elaine O’Leary (Hockey)

Movement Skills and Physical Development

The athletic development aspects of the partnership will support hurling, hockey and rugby teams from 1st to 6th year; providing specific development programmes designed for each player and team with demands of the sport, training age of the athlete and competition schedule taken into account. For students not involved in sport, initiatives will run throughout the year aiming to improve movement skills and physical development that will benefit the students throughout their lives. These aspects will run in conjunction with Physical Education classes.
These elements of the partnership will be overseen by Ian Jones, Head of Athletic Development at Setanta, who will be assisted by a team of coaches.
Speaking on the partnership, he said,“We are hugely excited to strengthen our collaboration with Ardscoil Rís. This expanded partnership represents the commitment of the school to promote an environment where every member of the school community can benefit from comprehensive health and wellness initiatives.
Ardscoil Rís has a long-held reputation for sporting success and we look forward to continuing and extending our athletic development support across hockey, hurling and rugby within the school. This renewed partnership is also designed to be inclusive, aimed at promoting health and wellbeing across the entire school community including students not involved in sport, school staff and parents/guardians.”
Education will also form a key element of the partnership. Regular workshops on topics such as nutrition and psychology will run throughout the year and will be available to all students and their parents/guardians. These workshops will focus on both the athletic and everyday aspects of these topics to support the students’ overall wellbeing. The staff of Ardscoil Rís will also benefit from the initiative, with individualised health and fitness support available to all staff on a monthly basis. This broader initiative aims to develop awareness and skills around the many components of health and wellness within the wider student population and staff.
Setanta College is an internationally renowned provider of higher education in human performance, sports science, and performance psychology. Recently, the college has expanded its offerings to include the development of athletic development structures through its consultancy practice Setanta Athletic Development. This division is led by Des Ryan (Director of Coaching & Athletic Development), Micheál Cahill (Chief Operating Officer) and Ian Jones (Head of Athletic Development). All three have extensive international experience in the area of athletic development.
Headquartered in Ireland with global campus locations, Setanta has a strong track record of working with prestigious sports organisations worldwide including World Rugby, the GAA, along with various rugby and GAA teams.

For more information about Setanta Athletic Development, please