GAA Football

'Gaelfast' chief Dr Paul Donnelly to leave post for Ulster University role

Gaelfast will lose the services of Dr Paul Donnelly of St Paul's at the end of the month

ANTRIM GAA's much heralded 'Gaelfast' project is on the look-out for a new chief after Dr Paul Donnelly reluctantly signalled his intentions to leave the high-profile post at the end of the month.

The popular St Paul’s, Belfast man will take up a new academic role at Ulster University after leading ‘Gaelfast’ from its inception two-and-a-half years ago.

Under GAA President John Horan, the Association were successfully lobbied by Antrim GAA to the tune of £1m over a five-year period.

Donnelly gave the Croke Park-backed scheme – designed to reinvigorate Gaelic Games in Belfast and indeed further afield – plenty of impetus and direction since his appointment in July 2018.

The former Antrim hurler had previously held a high-profile post in Sport NI to take the ‘Gaelfast’ reins and worked closely alongside all stakeholders in the county.

The ‘Gaelfast’ coaching team had already drilled its way into primary schools which had no previous GAA background and they also utilised the floodlit 4G facilities across the city to good effect, in conjunction with the clubs, for large parts of the year.

Keenly backed by the Antrim county board throughout the last two-and-a-half years, the pandemic put the brakes on Gaelfast’s gathering momentum as its staff were placed on furlough.

Its coaches were due to return to the schools on a three-day week, starting this week, but plans were put on ice last night by the soaring Covid19 rates.

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GAA Football