What do Jesuits and PE teachers have in common?
Give them the child and they will give you back the adult.
Mother and daughter CLG Beart Camógs, Marie and Grainne Gill are perfect cases in point.
Enthusiasism personified, Marie explained: “Manus O’Donnell, a former teacher at St Mura’s NS in Tooban, was and still is an absolute stalwart of camogie and hurling in the Parish of Fahan, Inch and Burt, along with his colleague, Colm Davis, who used to teach at St Aengus’ NS in Bridgend. Grainne played for Manus throughout her national school years.
“I have loved camogie ever since I was a student at the Convent in Buncrana, thanks to our dedicated PE teacher, Ms Anne McGrath from Letterkenny. She trained us almost every lunchtime, from First Year to Fifth Year.
“We competed in junior and senior Donegal schools’ competitions and did very well. We also competed in Ulster schools’ competition, where we invariably came up against St Patrick’s College, Maghera and then that would be the end of that for another year! I also admired a brilliant camogie player from Inch, Maeve Doherty who played on our team.
“So when Grainne joined CLG Beart, I was delighted and decided to get involved in the coaching side of things,” added Marie.
Now responsible for CLG Beart’s u-10, u-12, u-14 and u-16 camógs, Marie acknowledged the wider pool of coaching talent within Hibernian Park.
She said: “With 60 camógs registered at CLG Beart, it is all hands to the coaching pump. Luckily we have Cathy Harrigan from Tooban who has a vast experience and knowledge of camogie.
“During her student days at the Loreto Convent in Letterkenny, Cathy was trained by Ms Anne Carroll. We have also been joined by Jo Finnerty, Catherine Harkin, Evelyn Harris, Clare McDermott and PJ O’Brien.
“As well as our coaches, I think it is brilliant that parents are willing to give up so much of their time to make sure that young people can get involved in camogie. CLG Beart would not be the fantastic club it is without the families behind us. After all, getting players to training and matches is a big commitment.
“CLG Beart is now attracting camógs from Carrigans, Newtowncunningham and even Buncrana. CLG Carndonagh and ourselves are keeping the spirit of camogie alive in Inishowen. Anyone of any age who wants to play camogie is very, very welcome in CLG Beart,” added Marie.
CLG Beart’s u-10 and u-12 camógs train from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and the u-14 and u-16’s train from 6.30pm to 7.45pm every Thursday.
According to Marie the U-14s are having a fantastic season.
She said: “They were in Section E in the Ulster Féile for the first time in the history of CLG Beart. They won the Donegal Féile and reached the semi-finals of the recent Féile na nGael. The girls won all four of their matches on the Saturday but, unfortunately, they lost their semi-final by a single, heart-breaking point on the Sunday. They were totally devastated. They told me on the bus afterwards, they would rather have been hammered by the opposition!
“This season we have also entered two teams in the Derry League. We must thank Derry for allowing us to join because it means that CLG Beart camógs are getting great opportunities in terms of matches and experience. The u-14s held their own but the juniors were very young. I would be confident that both teams will compete successfully in the years ahead.”
With such excellent coaching and masses of parental encouragement it is littlewonder the Donegal squad beckoned CLG Beart’s camógs this year.
Marie revealed: “There are quite a few CLG Beart camógs playing at county level at u-14, u-16 and u-18. We have: Rebecca Lynch, Mary Doherty, Marie Coyle, Emma Harkin, Rhian McDermott, Karen Kelly, Leanne Kelly, Lucy Murray, Cáitlin McLaughlin, Sarah Scott, Rachel Doherty, Anne McGonagle, Eve Steele, Niamh Kelly, Hannah McDermott, Erin Lynch, Aisling Callaghan, Leah McDaid, Grainne Gill, Courtney Clare and Lauren Burns.
“Of all of the building work currently taking place at CLG Beart, the girls cannot wait for the camogie / hurling wall to be finished. They are really looking forward to that.
“My dream is that one day I will see them grace the Croke Park pitch. I hope they will always keep their love of camogie.”