Sport can reach across the divide

Gaelic Athletic Association
Image via Wikipedia

Although we have had some youths coming together to riot in some streets in Belfast in recent days, there are also more positive ways in which they are coming together too.

Yesterday, the head of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Christy Cooney, was in the heart of the Shankill to watch four local primary schools play at the Norman Whiteside playing field.

Part of an outreach project by St Patrick’s College, Bearnageeha, in the north of the city, this has been hailed as a great success.

The children have been meeting for a while to practice their skills. Last year they travelled to Croke Park to play against a Dublin team. It’s amazing to think children from the Shankill played hurling in Croke Park and children from the Falls Road have been on the Shankill playing hurling.

– Angela McLauglin, Principal, St Kevin’s Primary School

The four schools which have been taking part are: Edenbrooke Primary School, Glenwood Primary School, St Kevin’s Primary School, and St Paul’s Primary School. The club that they have formed is called Lamh Dhearg meaning Red Hand. Lamh Dhearg Abu appears on a loyalist mural in the Shankill Road, translated as ‘victory to the Red Hand’.

Michael Carchrie Campbell and Gerry Lynch wave their Antrim flags at Clones.

I wish Lamh Dhearg all the best and hope that other schools across our small country will come together to play Gaelic games as well. I know that when I visited Clones to watch Cavan v Antrim a couple of summers back I found a warm welcome amongst a group of people that somewhat instinctively I, a lad who was brought up in Ballymena as a member of the Church of Ireland, would have expected to feel uncomfortable in. It was a great feeling to be able to wave an Antrim county flag and support my county. Let’s make sure that more grown ups get that opportunity – and let them start as children. It really is the way forward.

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