GAA clubs find new ways to contribute in a time of crisis

MEMBERS of Templeogue Synge Street GAA club are certainly doing their bit in the fight against Covid19.

The State’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan is a club member, as is musician Danny O’Reilly of the Coronas.

It’s not the only club playing its part. Club promotion officers all over Dublin and Ireland continue to encourage people to keep fit and healthy. Social media is inundated with skills challenges, fitness nominations and clips of classic matches to help fill the void left behind by a lack of live sport.

“Usually we would be travelling from school to school, running coaching workshops, doing training sessions and getting kids active in schools,” says Ronan McDonald of Naomh Mearnóg GAA club in Portmarnock, which continues to challenge, coach, and educate kids by posting videos on Twitter and Facebook, encouraging people to get involved.

From early March, as the lockdown loomed, Dublin GAA were keen to organise activities to keep kids active during a period of unprecedented social inactivity. “We knew that the school closure was likely, so we had to plan ways mainly through social media, to allow kids an opportunity to get out and play football,” McDonald says.

The usual Saturday morning pandemonium involving parents dropping kids to any sports ‘nurseries’ is now a distant memory.

The Easter holidays would normally offer an opportunity for kids to attend GAA camps, however as the pandemic puts a stop to that, McDonald and the other games promotion officers have tried to promote the skills challenges not only to allow the kids to improve their skills but also to aid social interaction online.

“The biggest thing for us is not the actual skill being performed, it’s the interaction with the rest of the kids their own age, maintaining the contact with their club and keeping them engaged in Gaelic games.”

Many sports teams are facing the same problems as social distancing measures forbids players, mentors, and coaches from facilitating training sessions. McDonald explains the ways in which they have tried to manoeuvre around those problems.

“What we’ve been trying to do lately is conducting online training sessions using technology such as Microsoft Teams. So instead of undertaking our usual Saturday morning nursery style training session, a link is sent out to all the parents so they can log on and do a half hour session.”