First Annual Youthreach Gaelic Football 7s
Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence to host unique event
On Wednesday 20th June 2018 the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan, Claremorris, Co. Mayo hosted teams from Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Longford as part of the first annual Youthreach GAA 7s competition. The competition is designed to promote participation in Gaelic Games amongst Youthreach Trainees.
Youthreach is a Department of Education and Skills official education, training and work experience programme for early school leavers aged 15 – 20 years. It offers young people the opportunity to identify options within adult life and provides them with opportunities to acquire certification and valuable life and work place skills.
Teams competed for the Mayo Mental Health Association (MMHA) Cup. Niall Dunne Manager of Mayo Mental Health Association said “it’s fantastic for Mayo Mental Health Association to be part of this wonderful initiative where the importance of both physical health and mental health can be highlighted in the overall promotion of positive mental health”. Niall has worked alongside a lot of our students throughout the last number of years facilitating their very successful schools presentation called “Breathe”. You can get all the magnificent work Niall and his team carry out in Mayo Mental Health Association by logging on to www.mayomha.ie.
The games were extremely competitive and the emphasis was on participation and encouraging physical activity amongst young people. MMHA are keen to promote the link between physical activity, human interaction and positive mental health.
The organiser of the event is Ballinrobe, Youthreach who recognised that Gaelic Games were not really present as part of the day to day life of Youthreach Centres. Given the smaller class sizes in Youthreach 7s GAA seemed to be an ideal solution.
The final of the competition was contested by Ballinrobe and Longford. Longford emerged as winners by 2 points after a tense and intriguing contest with some excellent passages of play.
The Ballinrobe team were unique in so far as the majority of the panel was made up of Syrian students. Although they are relatively recent arrivals to Ireland they have really embraced Gaelic Football and showed an exceptional grasp of the skills of the game.
Ballinrobe Youthreach would like to express its’ gratitude to Connacht GAA who provided facilities at the Connacht Centre of Excellence for the tournament free of charge and to Mayo Mental Health Association for sponsoring the event.
It is hoped that this pilot project in the Connacht region will be expanded over the coming years to become an All-Ireland competition for Youthreach Centres.
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