The name of one very special Gael will live long in the memory of CLG Bhun an Phobail, that of Joe McGeady.
Speaking to Gaelscéalaí Inis Eoghain back in 2015, Gerard Faulkner (then manager of Moville’s senior men’s team and its U16s) paid tribute to the late national schoolteacher.
At the time, Gerard reflected: “You could say, the long years of hard work, which Joe McGeady put into under-age coaching in Moville GAA really paid off last year . Two of our young players, Tony McClenaghan and Ciaran Diver were selected for the Donegal minor football team, which reached the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final. Unfortunately, Donegal lost to Kerry in the hotly contested match, but we were very proud of the boys.
“Our former chairperson, Con O’Donnell knew Joe better than any of us and speaks very warmly of his tremendous contribution to both club and Parish. A teacher in Scoil Iosef here in Moville, Joe was involved in many sporting groups and organisations, including Community Games, badminton, golf, the Church folk choir, Céilí dancing and the GAA.
“He taught Céilí dancing classes in Muff, Moville, Carrowmena and Bocan for many years and as a founding member of Cumann Rinceoirí Céilí Inish Eoghain, Joe ensured that some one of the seven GAA clubs in Inishowen now hosts a Céilí every Friday night,” added Gerard.
Speaking to Gaelscéalaí Inis Eoghain this week, CLG Bhun an Phobail’s fantastic response to the coronavirus situation is a source of evident pride for the club’s PRO, John Peto.
According to John, there were two different elements to the club’s actions in the time of ‘lockdown.’
With no training or matches due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, Moville Gaels are playing a crucial part in the community response to the consequences of the pandemic.
John said: “First and most importantly, Moville GAA is running the community volunteer scheme within the parish and beyond, thanks to the Garda-vetted members of the club.”
In partnership with Moville Family Resource Centre, Muff Red Cross, Trinity Court (Newtowncunningham), Spraoi agus Spórt (Carndonagh) and The Exchange Inishowen (Buncrana), Moville GAA has set up a temporary food bank. The food bank serves the whole Inishowen peninsula and is supported by Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP).
John said: “We are delivering prescriptions, delivering food for some of the local shops, delivering school meals for children who are entitled to them. For the last few weeks, we have done between 50 to 70 deliveries per week. We are also trying to help people who are isolated within the community, checking on them to see if they are ok.
“In the last fortnight, Moville GAA has stepped up to become the logistics arm of Moville Foodbank. We are working with the local shops to organise collection points and we are the delivery arm of the Moville Foodbank.
“People who need the services of the foodbank, apply in confidence through Spraoi agus Spórt and then Moville GAA gets word and we add the deliveries to the foodbank. We manage the collection of the food from the foodbank and its rotation, to ensure there is no Covid-19 contamination. We deliver the foodbank parcels along with our shopping delivery. Confidentiality is paramount. I am the only one who knows if a person is getting a foodbank delivery for people who are in particular need or a delivery of shopping,” said John.
Moville GAA is running the foodbank in Moville as a “two way street.”
John explained: “We think it is a really good opportunity to encourage people. This is really what community is about. It is about small gestures to help each other in the Parish and the town.
“Healthwise Pharmacies, Gillen’s, Centra, all of the local food shops in Moville and the chemist are the drop-off points for the foodbank in Moville. This is Moville GAA’s community, covid-y response. It is great to see the community response all over Inishowen to the need for a foodbank. It is desperate that it is needed but it is needed,” said John.
The Inishowen Foodbank is a confidential service. Assistance can be requested by phoning: 074 937 3303.
Donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries and cleaning supplies are welcome.
In addition, all of CLG Bhun an Phobail’s underage coaches are running WhatsApp skills and drills sessions.
John said: “Coaches are sharing one skill or training exercise a week and is asking our young members to get videoed doing it. The videos are then shared within the groups, so the players are still keeping up some level of skills training and practice.
“Also, and more importantly, the young people are seeing each other doing the stuff and getting still some sense of a team and community. Seeing what each other is up to, they can keep in some kind of contact with their friends.
“Because adults are very good at meeting up on zoom and trying to keep in touch in whatever way they can and adults have been able to get out to the shops and have some bit of social contact, but for a lot of kids, particularly if they are in a rural area they are shut in the house and the garden and they are not really seeing any of their friends or peer groups.
“The club is trying to use the digital area videos to give them that contact with each other. That is really all we can do at the moment,” said John.
Looking to the future, John laughed as he recalled the recent observation of one of CLG Bhun an Phobail’s underage coaches who said ‘Occasionally, when you stop thinking of all the other stuff that’s going on and you look at the fixtures backlog, you think, how on earth are we going to get through this?’
John said: “It’s hard enough making all the fixtures work at the best of times when you have a year to get them done!
“We will certainly be desperate to get our young players playing again in some way as soon as possible, whatever way we are able to do that, be it internally in the club or, maybe, playing some round robins with Muff and Carndonagh, our two nearest clubs. How we make that work is for the Inishowen Board to figure out.
“But we are very much desperate to get back to playing as soon as possible. Senior Season is just about to start. We have six senior ladies who are county players at the club. They are maintaining their training as best they can. We also have two senior men on the county panel. They are also trying to keep their training, but it is very, very difficult.
“Everything is happening on WhatsApp rather than on the pitch. It is very frustrating. There is plenty of craic and banter going on between players, but everyone is just desperate to get out and play again, that’s the real challenge,” said John.
In terms of the Junior Championship, Moville’s men had just been promoted out of Division 4 back to Division 3.
According to John, the club had been “very much looking forward to getting back to Division 3.”
He added: “Almost all of the Inishowen clubs are in Division 3, so it was going to be great year of local derbies for the players.
“Our women’s team is one of the best in the county. We have been league and championship winners in recent years. They would have been fancying themselves for a good season. They were going very well in pre-season and that has just ground to a halt! As things stand, it is all very frustrating.”
John said he had been heartened by the “level of trust” for CLG Bhun an Phobail within the Moville community.
He added: “When we started doing the community response to Covid, we realised there were a lot of people who were quite vulnerable and isolated. However, there is a real sense of trust when we knock on someone’s door with the club colours on, the club shirt.
“There is a connection there. People know we are local, we are from the parish and we are there to help. That is great for us to see.
“That’s is key. We can see how respected and valued the club is in the community and we are just pleased to be able to do our own small part. In trying to help make life easier for some people.
“We are also trying to use the club’s Facebook page to provide trusted sources of information. It is really important we all look after our after mental health,” said John.
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