Monday 20 August 2018

Boost for Belfast with €1m grant

GAA president John Horan. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
GAA president John Horan. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A five-year £1m (€1.15m) plan to strengthen and promote Gaelic games across Belfast has been unveiled.

'Gaelfast' will be the biggest non-capital initiative by the GAA in Northern Ireland and will place expert coaches to schools across the city to promote games development and GAA ethos.

The project will supplement the ongoing facilities developments for Gaelic games within the city through a partnership between the GAA and Belfast City Council.

Gaelfast will commence in September 2018 and, initially, will see around 20 schools across Belfast taking part.

Coaches will be in the schools one day a week and the scheme will be overseen by a regeneration manager, yet to be appointed.

The scheme echoes the partnership between Dublin GAA and the Irish Sports Council which began in 2005 and now sees up to 70 coaches employed in the capital.

Launching the project, GAA President John Horan said the Association is in "excellent health across Ulster and this five-year plan will help increase participation in Gaelic games in Belfast, the second largest city on the island of Ireland.

"This five-year plan is the most comprehensive ever developed for Belfast and builds on the expertise within the GAA in order to give expert coaching to children and to assist schools with their involvement with the GAA," he added.

"Belfast has a rich history of Gaelic games and this five-year plan aims to build on that," he said.

Despite its population, Belfast and Antrim have struggled to make a national impact in Gaelic games.

Kerry star desperate to take next step

PATRICE DIGGIN is looking forward to tomorrow's Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Division 3 final against Roscommon in the Ragg, County Tipperary (throw-in 2pm), aware that it represents another step forward in the Kerry journey.

The 22-year-old is the most recognisable member of the panel, having been hailed for her contribution as University of Limerick won the Ashbourne Cup in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

She was Player of the Match in the 2016 final and captain when they retained the title.

Diggin has admitted previously that when she first went training at UL, she was afraid to put on her Kerry gear, surrounded as she was by so many players from senior counties like Galway and Tipperary.

That third-level experience gave her a boost but had a wider consequence too.

"It definitely did give me a bit of confidence and made me better," states the Causeway native.

"And it showed girls in Kerry what is possible. Out of all the girls in the Kerry team, any one of them would make it, I've no doubt about that."

Fantastic progress has been made. That is evidenced by their previous outings against tomorrow's opponents.

The primrose and blue accounted for their league aspirations at the penultimate hurdle 12 months ago but they finished 0-7 apiece in difficult conditions in the group stages of this year's competition.

"We made the semi-finals the last two years and this year now we've managed to reach the final. We're hoping to get that step further and get out of Division 3 and get into Division 2 but we'll have to see how Sunday goes."

Irish Independent

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