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Nutritionists see Red over new GAA drinks deal

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The decision by Galway GAA to accept Red Bull as “the official drinks partner” for all Galway football and hurling teams has been criticized by a Government body as sending the wrong message to young people.

Red Bull announced its sponsorship deal with Galway GAA covering football and hurling teams at senior, minor and U21 levels during their training and games.

A statement from the drinks giant said “the exciting new partnership” continues Red Bull’s “long standing association with both Gaelic football and hurling through the creation of its own events and the Red Bull Athlete network”.

Red Bull Longest Day is led by Galway full forward Joe Canning, described by their marketing as a “Red Bull Athlete”.

“Red Bull’s involvement in Gaelic Games is similar to the level of support the brand has established with some of the world’s best athletes and events in a multitude of sports, ranging from field sports to surfing, triathlon and skiing. Some of the most significant partnerships include football (FC Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Brazil), ice hockey (Red Bull Salzburg & Munchen), triathlon (Ironman, official drinks partner) and running (Wings for Life World Run) to name but a few.

“Red Bull has also invested in such innovations as the Diagnostics Training Centre, based in Austria, which aids athletes in recovering from injury and achieving peak fitness and performance,” the company said.

CEO of Galway GAA John Hynes said the county’s top sporting association was “delighted to be linking with such a progressive company as Red Bull”.

“Both Red Bull and Galway GAA have matching ambitions and look forward to continued success on and off the field,” he stated.

However, the deal has left the all-Ireland food safety and nutrition promotion board with a bad taste.

“This is very disappointing news to hear given that stimulant drinks like Red Bull are not suitable for children or for rehydration purposes following sport,” remarked Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition for Safefood.

“The consumption of energy drinks in Ireland is associated with binge-drinking and I’m unclear how this sponsorship fits with the philosophy and vision of any national governing body like the GAA which does so much positive work with children and sport, particularly at underage levels.

“Role-modelling is a powerful tool when it comes to our sports stars, especially with younger children. Safefood have always recommended that the marketing of these products is undertaken without association with sport however this sponsorship seems to be prepared to target young, impressionable consumers in the belief that stimulant drinks will help them achieve ‘peak fitness and performance’ according to their own marketing materials.”

A report released last month by Safefood into energy drinks found there was a massive increase in the number of products now on sale since 2002, with some brands containing up to 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single can.

Males aged 15-24 were the highest consumers of energy drinks (64%) and over half of those who consumed energy drinks (54%) consumed them at least once a week or more frequently.

Dr Foley-Nolan noted that energy drinks and sports drinks now comprise more than 20% of the soft drinks market in Ireland.

“Consumption can have health consequences because of their sugar and caffeine content. A typical small 250ml can has sugar levels of 6 teaspoons per can which is equivalent to a full chocolate bar.

“The caffeine content is high and drinking two small cans and one small espresso of coffee drives an adult’s daily caffeine intake above recommended levels.”

The use of energy drinks as a mixer with alcohol among young adults also has consequences in the context of Ireland’s current binge–drinking culture, she stressed.

“Safefood’s position continues to be that these drinks are not recommended as a mixer for alcoholic beverages but this is now common and part of the binge drinking culture prevalent particularly amongst our 15-24 year olds.”

Operation Transformation GP Dr Ciara Kelly described mixing an energy drink – which is a stimulant – with alcohol – which is a depressant – like “driving a car with your feet on the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time”.

“It stimulates a person so they actually end up drinking for longer as they may not be aware how drunk they really are. GP surgeries and our emergency departments have to deal with the effects of mixing energy drinks with alcohol,” she explained.

“The cheap price, easy availability, aggressive marketing and consumption of these products bluntly show how far from responsible the industry truly is and why we need to ask ourselves some hard questions when it comes to their use.”

Dr Foley-Nolan insists that energy drinks are also not suitable for children under 16 or for rehydration purposes following sport.

“The marketing of these products should be undertaken without any ambiguity or association with sport or alcohol. An awareness campaign of the potential health issues, targeted specifically at young people, is something that needs to happen.”

Red Bull – the highest-selling energy drink in the world, with 5.387 billion cans sold in 2013 – is a mix of sugar, caffeine, taurine and several B vitamins. It became a worldwide sensation after a 1987 trip to Thailand by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz who tried a traditional drink known as Krating Daeng to help his jetlag.

Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or  HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Workers leave hospitality sector to seek job security

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Pearse Doherty...morale has never been lower.

The severe restrictions for hospitality and entertainment are widely expected to be lifted next month – but already workers in the sector are reportedly leaving in their droves to source more stable employment.

And that could spell disaster for Galway’s vibrant arts industry which is a crucial cog in the wheel of local tourism.

When Covid regulations are eased for those staging events – thought to be announced this week – one of their biggest challenges is to secure staff for operations, according to prominent Galway event organiser Pearse Doherty.

Morale has never been lower in the industry, with even loyal customers getting fed up having to book and reschedule constantly when the goalposts shift so many times for shows.

“I really think it’s going to be very difficult for any venue going back or festival being staged. I don’t think things are ever going to go back to normal. Any event over 5,000 people will likely have to have fewer tents, a bigger space – all these things have to be taken into consideration for people who invest in the business,” he reflects.

“Having 50 per cent capacity and closing time at 8pm does nothing to make things financially viable. A lot of business models are built on having a bar and selling to 100 per cent capacity so I’m just not sure how many will survive the pandemic, even with all the very welcome Government supports for the industry.”

He knows of many in the industry who are changing careers or moving abroad in search of work in a location where restrictions nowhere as strict.

The head of production for the doomed Galway Capital of Culture 2020, head of production for Aiken Promotions which is behind the biggest gigs in the country and the site manager for the Electric Picnic, Pearse has himself pivoted in his career, taking up the role of producer with Fíbín Theatre at An Taibhdhearc.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway author dedicates children’s book to brave young nephew battling DMD

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Dedication....Fionn Brogan – new book aims to help in his fight.

A flying mouse with a skill for hurling is the subject of a book a Galway man has dedicated to his cousin’s son – six-year-old Fionn Brogan who, like Lumo the mouse, must overcome a myriad of challenges in his everyday life.

Ballinderreen man Tom Costelloe tells the Connacht Tribune he wrote the book to raise funds for his cousin Michael’s son, inspired by the strength and resilience Fionn has shown since his diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was just three years old.  A disease which attacks the muscles, DMD will leave Fionn unable to play football or do many of the things he loves to do as time goes on.

As a result, his family wants to raise enough funds to make the next few years the best possible for Fionn – and aim to adapt their house so he can freely use a power wheelchair among other alterations that will be required.

For Tom, who works as a speech and language therapist, the Covid lockdowns presented an opportunity to put pen to paper and create this story of Lumo, a mouse with wings.

“With a positive message of self-acceptance, the story is brought to life with wonderful colourful illustrations by Thomas Quinn from Kinvara.

“Like Lumo the flying mouse, Fionn and his family have no shortage of strength, resilience and sprit – and thanks to our printing costs being generously sponsored, every euro raised from the sales goes directly to the Fionn Brogan trust,” he says.

Tom, who lives in Galway City, says the family had a series of fundraisers over the past year and he hopes this will add to the momentum of achieving what’s necessary to support Fionn as he continues to defy all odds.

And through his work, he’s had a good research group to test-run Lumo – getting very positive feedback.

“I work with kids so they became my research team, and they were very useful in making sure the book was of interest,” he laughs.

‘Could a Flying Mouse Play Hurling?’ is available in in Clarke’s Pharmacy Kilcolgan, Burke’s Eurospar Kinvara, Circle-K Kinvara, Poppyseed Café Clarinbridge and First Chapter in Gort.  For more information on the Fionn Brogan Trust, visit fionnbrogantrust.ie where donations can also be made.

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