Cork GAA clubs are leading the way in keeping communities together

Cork GAA clubs are leading the way in keeping communities together
The Douglas Covid-19 group, represented by (front) Rory Noonan, Douglas GAA; Conor Horgan, Nemo Rangers, and Aidan O'Connor, Douglas, GAA and (rear) Triona Healy, Cork South Community Work Department HSE, Bernadette Horgan, Douglas Young at Heart, Ciaran Lynch, CETB, Garda Sgt Mick O'Connell, Community Policing, and Ronan Clarke, Douglas Men's Shed Group. Picture: Larry Cummins.

I AM not sure whether Charles Darwin, best known to some for his work on evolution, is connected from his final resting place to happenings on the planet today.

If he is, I would imagine that you would alter some of his earlier pioneering work. After all, when you witness the largest landowner in the Banner speculate that a few injections of Dettol could send the coronavirus on its way, you’d wonder if we have evolved at all.

That may not be the only happening that would concern our evolutionary gentleman.

President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. Picture: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. Picture: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

In all fairness, did we ever expect to see the day when instead of club teams playing one other, it is club pitches that are in combat against each other?

Oh yes — in at least five of the eight Cork County GAA divisions, the pitch championships are the new rage. Who said the expiry date on divisional activity had passed!

Back to Donald Dettol for nóiméad amháin. I did wonder was there any way he could be convinced that sinking a few pints of the Irish black stuff could be as effective as a couple of disinfectant injections? Marketing genius!

Even this far across the water, Trump would drive even the quietest person daft.

I recently recalled a story from a derby game between Ballinhassig and Courcey Rovers in the 2001 South East junior hurling final, played in Kinsale. From what I can remember, there was a whiff of sulphur in the build-up to the game, and the ensuing contest has taken its place in history as the real battle of Kinsale.

Anyway, in the aftermath of the game, a few people paid a visit to an old Courcey Rovers player who was hospitalised at the time.

When the match was been discussed, a member of the visiting party informed the gentleman of the carry-on, where allegedly a Ballinhassig supporter had scaled the perimeter fencing to add his tuppence worth.

Expecting the old Courceys warrior to express disgust at the behaviour of the blues wayward one, he had one simple question: “What Courcey Rovers player or mentor met this gentleman when he landed on the pitch?”

Put another way, he had difficulty understanding how the Ballinhassig brave was still breathing.

Courcey Rovers' Timothy Lordan seen controlling the sliotar while Martin Cussen and Brian O'Sullivan of Ballinhassig close in during the Barry Collins Super Valu South East Junior A Hurling Final at Crosshaven.
Courcey Rovers' Timothy Lordan seen controlling the sliotar while Martin Cussen and Brian O'Sullivan of Ballinhassig close in during the Barry Collins Super Valu South East Junior A Hurling Final at Crosshaven.

Enough violence for one column! Can we revert to these pitch battles. This corner interest was brought into sharp focus on receipt of a text message informing me that the sender was on a canvassing mission.

For a moment I thought that the Greens had withdrawn from the government formation talks and that another general election had been called.

Akin to many previous canvassers, I had no choice only to leave the gentleman with the impression that his pitch would receive the number one. Don’t mention strange times.

As you read these words, the club month will be taking its leave and, despite not a ball being kicked or a sliotar pucked, a strong argument could be made that the clubs had their finest club month ever. Right from the beginning of this crisis, the GAA has played a major role.

At national level, the decision to shut up playing shop was viewed as a statement. Then you had a number of the nation’s stadia being offered up as testing centres.

However, as noteworthy as these events were, the performance of the nation’s clubs will take some topping. Very many of them came to the assistance of the vulnerable in our society by delivering medical and food supplies to their front door.

Then you had many who engaged with the youth by posting videos featuring the many skills that attach to both codes of Gaelic games.

Another awesome contribution arrived by way of fundraising. I am not for one moment implying that all fundraising events were the sole preserve of the GAA clubs — but what can’t be denied is the leading role that they played.

You are all probably well aware by now of the Do It For Dan campaign which was launched back in March with the objective to raise €2.1m to facilitate the very expensive treatment for one-year-old Dan Donoher whose parents, Niall and Aisling, are both former Laois footballers.

Dan suffers from a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1, as well as Scoliosis. Until this treatment was developed, this young boy’s life expectancy would be between 18 and 24 months.

If the treatment is successful, it has the potential to change everything for the Donoher family.

The target has now been reached, with a very sizeable proportion of the money coming for numerous GAA club fundraising events.

Just to take one example, a small rural Duhallow club, Knocknagree, raised €16,043 over a few days last weekend.

At the year end, it’s does appear very likely that there will no major additions to the trophy collections of any clubs but the historians may very well decree that 2020 was the most successful in many of our clubs history.

It may be a bit down the line, but when all this ends, the hope will be that the country’s clubs will be on a more even footing within the GAA hierarchy than was previously the case.

If next April is again set aside for club activity, that will mean just that — and you won’t have some intercounty manager preventing players from lining out with their clubs.

As mentioned previously, one of the the silver streaks attaching to Covid-19, is that it presents an opportunity to do so many things better.

Let us hope that the GAA that it grasps this possibly once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Stay safe.

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