Friday 23 March 2018

GAA's historic link-up with Celtic to help disadvantaged kids

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA will forge a new link with Celtic later today with the launch of a pilot scheme aimed at promoting youth development through sport in disadvantaged areas.

The partnership between the GAA at central level and a soccer club of Celtic's stature is a groundbreaking first for the association.

The Glasgow club's GAA links were enhanced last November when current Donegal manager Jim McGuinness was taken on as a performance consultant at Celtic's academy at Lennoxtown. McGuinness spends two to three days a week in Scotland, but has been comfortably able to accommodate this with his position as Donegal boss.

McGuinness has forged a close working bond with Neil Lennon (right), himself a former Armagh minor footballer. Lennon is understood to have been instrumental in getting the scheme off the ground through the work of Celtic's foundation.

The 'Let's Go – Lead Through Sport' scheme will be piloted at three different venues later this year, understood to be Dublin, Ballymote in Sligo, which is the birthplace of Celtic founder Br Walfrid, and Lurgan, home of the Celtic manager.

The launch in Croke Park will be attended by GAA president Liam O'Neill, chairman of the Celtic PLC, Ian Bankier and McGuinness.

McGuinness has consistently spoken of the benefit of sharing ideas with a professional club like Celtic that he has been able to bring back to Donegal.

His appointment was a landmark moment for GAA coaches, opening up the possibility of others crossing the sporting divide. He is preparing Donegal for their third successive Ulster semi-final as they look to extend a nine-match unbeaten run in the province against Down on Sunday.

He has already ruled out Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher's involvement in the match from the start after they picked up knee injuries in recent club games.

But Mark McHugh, who didn't start against Tyrone, looks set to come in for Gallagher, with Ryan Bradley moving to midfield.

Irish Independent

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