GAA Football

Cavan club Killinkere reaches out to children across its community

THE club and parish of Killinkere may take their name from a ruined Catholic church but reaching out to the Church of Ireland community has helped bring its reward.

Translating from the Irish meaning `Little black church', Killinkere referred to St Ultan's, the remains of which are less than a mile from the present Catholic church of the same name.

However, Tony Ryan – chairman of the Cavan club which is located between Bailieborough and Virginia - explained how a cross-community approach is an important aspect in winning The Irish News SCV 'Underage Initiative of the Year':

"It was all about integration between the local Church of Ireland school and the Catholic school in our parish – going in and doing work with both schools and trying to get the benefit of both schools coming up to the club. We've been trying to get as many children to come up, but especially working with the Church of Ireland school.

"The other part of the initiative is the work we are doing with children with special needs, providing facilities for them and encouraging them to get involved in the club along with their parents and families.

Emmett Traynor, the club's school liaison officer, says there is benefit in both directions, with the club garnering key players:

"Historically, there was always a stereotype associated with Church of Ireland schools but that's no longer the case within our county anyway.

"Over the years we've had a number of students from the Church of Ireland primary school who have been prominent members in the GAA club. It's an example for other clubs to reach out to those schools because there are players there willing to come on board.

"They welcomed us with open arms, they were delighted to see us. We've established a club noticeboard in the school and there are a number of other initiatives we hope to carry out towards the end of this academic year and the beginning of the next one.

"One is to get the two schools together to play against each other – it's all about making friends and being part of the bigger club."

James Mooney, Killinkere's juvenile chairman, spoke about the other element of their underage initiative:

"It's something we feel very passionate about; we have a number of kids with special needs and we're very keen on making sure they're fully integrated in the club. We want to provide something they can achieve and feel a sense of achievement to whatever level they're able to do.

"We feel strongly about this and we're very lucky to have a lot of good coaches and parents, a large volunteer base, so we'll continue work hard in that area; we feel it's important for the wider community.

"It obviously takes some additional volunteers to help out kids with learning difficulties in training sessions but we're very keen to make sure they get the same chance as any other child in the club.

"We're getting very positive feedback from the community and we're trying to put extra facilities in the club grounds to cater for those kids.

"There's a huge sense of joy for the kids and their families, but for us as well, just to see them enjoying themselves".

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GAA Football