Sunday 3 May 2015

From track to field: Community Games attract 4,000 competitors and 9,000 fans

Published 24/08/2014 | 15:56

WHAT do Colin Farrell, Sonia O'Sullivan, Niall Quinn, Bressie, Denis Irwin and Tommy Bowe all have in common?

At some point all of them have competed at the HSE Community Games but not necessarily in the activities you might expect.

For starters Hollywood star Farrell was a relay runner, Niall Quinn won the long puck three years in a row, Denis Irwin was a draughts champion and Sonia O'Sullivan had to settle for silver on the track.

Over the weekend nearly 4,000 children from all over the country added their names to the list of Ireland's youth who have at some stage over the past 46 years taken part in the Community Games.

24 August 2014; Sinead Reynolds, Dunboyne, Co. Meath, in action during the Girls Under 16 Triple Jump. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.  Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Sinead Reynolds, Dunboyne, Co. Meath, in action during the Girls Under 16 Triple Jump. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Spectators look on during the Gaellc football Mixed Under 10 playoff final. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Sean Shanahan, left, Clane/Rathcoffey, Co.Kildare, representing Leinster in action against Senan Cudden, Monaghan Town, Co.Monaghan, representing Ulster, in the Gaellc football Mixed Under 10 playoff final. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Michael McMorrow, Monaghan Town, Co.Monaghan, representing Ulster in the Gaellc football Mixed Under10 playoff final against Andrew Hyland, Clane/Rathcoffey, Co.Kildare, representing Leinster. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Team Ireland athlete Michael McKillop, from Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim pictured on his return at Dublin Airport from the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships in Wales. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Kate Taylor, Quin/Clooney, Co. Clare, in action during the Girls Under 16 Triple Jump. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Chloe Hayden, Askea, Co.Carlow, centre, with Eve Murphy, Bantry, Co.Cork, left, and Kelly Doyle, Tubbercurry, Co.Sligo, in action during the semi Final of the Girls U.14 100 metres. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Caoimhe Morris, left, Lucan, Co.Dublin, representing Leinster, in action against Sarah Curran, Ballyjamesduff, Co.Cavan, representing Ulster in the playoff of the Under 14 Camogie Final. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; David McDonnell, Strokestown, Co.Roscommon, right, and Sean Hickey, Ballyduff, Co.Waterford, in action during the semi Final of the Boys U.12 100metres . HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Dylan Thornton, Quay, Co.Mayo, right, and David McDonnell, Strokestown, Co.Roscommon, in action during the semi Final of the Boys U.12 100metres . HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Omason Ayvoro, St.Conleths, Co.Kildare, centre, with Ailbhe Doherty, left, Ennis St.Johns, Co.Clare and Aoife Horgan, Listowel, Co.Kerry, in action during the semi Final of the Girls U.12 100metres. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Eoin O'Hanlon, left and Fionan Gallagher, Monaghan Town, Co.Monaghan, representing Ulster celebrate at the end of the Gaellc football Mixed Under 10 playoff final against Clane/Rathcoffey, Co.Kildare, representing Leinster. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Spectators look on during the Gaellc football Mixed Under 10 playoff final. HSE Community Games August Festival 2014, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
24 August 2014; Team Ireland athleteOrla Barry, from Ladysbridge, Cork, pictured on her return at Dublin Airport from the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships in Wales. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

More than 9,000 spectators have turned up at the Athlone Institute of Technology over the past three days to see children aged between six and 16 take part in track and field, GAA, art, drama and other more unusual sports such as skittles and spikeball.

It was a record turn out at the finals - although one noticeable absentee was the burger van.

As part of a range of initiatives aimed at fighting childhood obesity the HSE Community Games banned fast food from the event, instead serving up a menu that included salmon, bacon and beef.

"Nobody seemed to mind at all. The kids even seemed to embrace the notion of Brussels sprouts in August," PRO Peggy Connolly told independent.ie.

Among the spectators wondering the campus was Brendan Boyce who is just back from the European Championships in Zurich, where he finished 16th in the 50 kilometre walk.

"When I was coming though I loved seeing Sonia here [O'Sullivan]. I remember seeing her from a distance when Community Games was Mosney. She was phenomenal. It made me think that I could be like her.

"The first time I actually met her was at the Olympics in London when she was chef d'equipe for the team and I was representing Ireland.

"If someone from rural Donegal can make it to the Olympics anyone can," he said.

President of the HSE Community Games Gerard Davenport said that the real emphasis of the finals is not winning medals but representing their county, taking part and making new friends from all over Ireland.

"Walking around the campus and speaking with the many parents it was great to see everyone having such a positive experience over the weekend, being part of their children’s hopes and dreams while reminiscing themselves on their own memories of HSE Community Games.

"We are hoping that next year we’ll have an even bigger turnout as people start to realise it’s easy for everyone to become a part of HSE Community Games," he said.

 

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