GAA clubs welcome the resumption of training

GAA clubs welcome the resumption of training

31 March 2021

LOCAL GAA clubs have expressed their delight at the Executive’s decision to return to training.

Downpatrick, Loughinisland and Teconnaught are among the list of clubs eager for a return to the pitch on April 12.

Downpatrick RGU are eagerly awaiting a full return to the sport, as the men’s team aim for a return to Division One of the All County League.

There has been a lot of work done behind the scenes at the club with numerous virtual meetings taking place every week.

The club’s return to play committee is currently setting plans and protocols in place for training commencing and the management team of Aidan Robinson and Kevin Gracey have been joined this year by Paul Evans.

“We have a good strong squad this year with lads returning from long term injuries and from abroad. With a good mix of wise heads and young lads coming through we want to create an environment where they can perform to their undoubted potential” said Robinson. 

RGU senior ladies’ manager Barry Gracey added: “Our goal this year is to develop a new team and maintain our position in the upper levels of ladies football in Down, ready to challenge for honours in the years to come”.

Commenting on the past year, club chairperson Edel Curran said: “It has been a very challenging year and I wish to thank everyone who has helped and supported the club during this time. 

We are hugely appreciative of all our volunteers and of course I am delighted that the long awaited return to play is now on the horizon. I can’t wait for the long summer days and to see all our friends and family back at Páirc Tomás Ruséil”.

Loughinisland GAC chair Louise Kearney explained how the club is preparing for April 12, and the excitement of seeing the players properly after six months of waiting. 

“We have been working hard to make sure everything is ready and safe,” she said. Like last year every team has a Covid-19 supervisor, a dedicated volunteer who checks that the ready-to-play forms are all confirmed, hands are washed and the equipment is clean. We had a sink installed at the players’ entrance so there is no excuses.

“The club has also worked hard to recruit more coaches so we can now offer, for the first time, separate girls and boys training for all age groups from P1 to Year 14.

I would encourage parents to bring their kids along, all new members and beginners are very welcome.”

Senior men’s manager Jody Gormley said: “It will be great to get back on the pitch after such an extended break. People have worked hard independently and kept in contact online, but having the craic with players and coaches is as important as the hard work. It is something that has been sorely missed.”

Teconnaught GAC chairman Barry Carville says it will be “all hands on deck” to ensure a safe and enjoyable return to the pitch. 

“As with last year’s return to the pitch we are fully prepared in terms of PPE, signage and health and safety,” remarked.

“Our senior men and ladies have been keeping busy with their own personal training programs and zoom classes. There is palpable excitement and anticipation about getting back out on the pitch, the benefits of which can’t be replicated over zoom.”

He continued: “With no dates set for a return to play we hope to get into competitive games coming into the summer and will be preparing the players across all levels for this as best we can for whatever form competitive competitions come.”

Club treasurer Stephen Price highlighted the importance of a return to play for the club.

“It has been a testing year for the club financially with all fundraising opportunities almost completely wiped out,” he said.

“One thing that has really shone through all of this is the continued support of our members. It has obviously been a difficult time for many in our community yet the backing we have received has been immense.

He added: “We look forward to the re-opening of our brand new clubhouse which will provide so much to our members young and old and indeed wider community in the years ahead.”