Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
DUAL star Cillian McDaid, who headed off to Australia this week to join AFL outfit Carlton Blues on a two-year contract, says even if Galway senior footballers were in the middle of a three-in-a-row All-Ireland bid he would find it very difficult to turn down the opportunity to become a full-time professional athlete.
At 20 years of age, the world is a blank canvas for McDaid, who was an integral part of the Tribesmen’s run to this year’s U-21 All-Ireland football final, where they were beaten by Dublin. The Craughwell native has also represented the county’s footballers at senior and minor level while also winning an All-Ireland hurling medal with Jeffrey Lynskey’s minors in 2015.
Oozing talent, athleticism, drive and ambition, it was not a surprise the AFL would come calling and while McDaid is as proud a Galway man as any, he notes the opportunity to become a full-time professional player was just too great to turn down.
“If Galway were in the middle of winning three All-Irelands in a row, it would be a more difficult decision but I honestly think I would still give it a go,” he says. “Look, I have just turned 20, so in two years’ time I will just be 22 and if it doesn’t work out I think I will have gained a lot of experience. And hopefully I won’t have the travel bug anymore!”
It is not lost on McDaid that the AFL has got “bad press” for what some would describe its poaching of young and talented GAA players but he ponders just how different is this from former GAA players joining soccer clubs in England or switching allegiance from Gaelic Games to rugby, as the case with former Cork hurler and current Ireland international Darren Sweetnam.
“So, you have had GAA players who have gone on to play soccer – Shane Long from Tipperary and Niall Quinn and Kevin Moran (both Dublin) – and others who have gone on to rugby but you also have players who just drop off for whatever reason.
“Take the U-21 club championship which is only starting for some clubs now in the middle of November. That is not fair (as you will have players with some of those teams who will have gone off to play soccer and rugby over the Winter and it will mean some of those teams could be down several players). So, if one player decides to go to Australia this year, I don’t think that is the biggest problem in the GAA. I am sure though there are probably other people who might think differently.”
That said, McDaid stresses he has received nothing but support from family, friends and Galway’s GAA community – “personally, I never got anything but good wishes” – and this was a sentiment also echoed in his adopted senior football club of Monivea/Abbey and by Galway senior football boss, Kevin Walsh.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.
Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.
The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.
As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.
Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow: collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.
In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.
As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.
Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.
Park fun to mark Africa Day
On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.
Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.
Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.
Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.
Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.
In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.
Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.
The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.
Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.
Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’
BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON
A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.
Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.
The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.
The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.
Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.
“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.
“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.
“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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