Youngsters from four schools in the Roe Valley have been brought together in a cross community GAA team, recently travelling to London to represent Ulster GAA in the All Britain Competition
Twenty young footballers made the trip, Protestants and Catholics, from Limavady High School, Limavady Grammar, St Mary’s, Limavady, and St Patrick’s College, Dungiven donning the same jersey for the Roe Valley Cúchulainn team.
Fionntán O’Dowd of Ulster GAA, co-manager of the team, said: “Football is only a part of this project, it’s more about boys who are living in the locality, who are going to different schools, who maybe don’t really speak to each other and be in each other’s company, now this has given a method of how that can be brought together. It takes a while to break down the barriers but you can see them getting along together.”
Ulster GAA President Martin McAviney said: “The Cúchulainn Initiative continues to be Ulster GAA’s flagship Cross Community Project which uses Gaelic Games to break down barriers and build community relations in the education sector. Ulster GAA is committed to the development of a shared future based on tolerance and respect for the differing cultural traditions that share our community. This year we are delighted to once again include the London trip for Roe Valley Cúchulainns as it provides a unique opportunity to bring together young men from across the different backgrounds to travel and represent their families, their schools, their communities and their county.
“Many new friendships will be forged during this trip and that really goes to prove the strength of sport in building Peace and Reconciliation.”
The team participated in the U16 Football Championships in Greenford were they met St Kiernan’s, St Colmcille’s, Naomh Padraig, Parnells, and St Dympna’s in the group stages. Having remained unbeaten throughout the group they qualified for a semi-final meeting against St Joseph’s were they emerged winners following a strong display.
The final was a re-match against their group opponents Parnells, and was a closely fought affair and the Roe Valley lads were narrowly beaten.
“Despite not collecting the Cup, these group of players achieved something very special over their 4 days in London. Not only were they the first Cuchulainn team to reach the final of the ABC’s, new friendships had been formed amongst the boys and it is hoped that this togetherness will be maintained and developed in the future years ahead.” said a spokesperson.
Teachers Thomas Campbell, Brian Hughes, Stephen McConnell and Mervin McMullan accompanied pupils onthe trip alongside Ulster GAA staff Fionntán O’Dowd and Gavin McGilly.