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*Monica Callinan pictured with Eimear Considine. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Secretary of the Clare LGFA, Monica Callinan believed the role of GAA clubs in communities will be appreciated more following the local efforts undertaken this year.

“2020 has been a very difficult year due to Covid -19, lockdowns and restriction been imposed for most of the year. However, it has also been the year that we can celebrate the volunteers in our communities who provided vital supports to the elderly and vulnerable during lockdown. Many of those voluntary efforts were coordinated through local GAA/LFGA clubs, once again demonstrating the role our clubs play within our communities”

So said Clare ladies football board secretary Monica Callinan in a detailed report to this week’s annual general meeting of the body.

“2020 has also been the year of the ‘virtual challenge’ which helped raised thousand for euros for many national and local charities. Back in April the Clare intermediate team took part in the ‘ditch your boots’ challenge and ran over 23000 km raising over €10,000.00 for Pieta, Clare Cystic Fibrosis, and West Clare Cancer Centre. I think when we look back at 2020 we will do so with enormous gratitude for the sacrifices our healthcare workers have made throughout this pandemic to take care of the sick and the vulnerable; everyone who self-quarantined to avoid spreading the virus to others, and everyone who adjusted their habits and way of living to protect others. We must also reflect on the terrible loss experienced by the bereaved who had to deal with their grief under very difficult circumstances, in some cases not being afforded the opportunity to say good-by”, according to the Kilmihil club official.

“In May the Banner Ladies suffered the sudden and devastating loss of Michael McInerney. Michael played a huge role within the Banner ladies and he made a massive contribution to Ladies football through his involvement at County Board and as a Munster delegate. Michael enriched the lives of those around him, he was a gentleman with an unassuming, calm, and gentle manner who always listened before offering his opinion. The esteem in which Micheal was held throughout the county was very evident on his final journey home to West Clare where club members and work colleagues formed a guard of honour along the route. Michael was a voice of reason and it was to him we regularly turned to at our monthly meetings to bring clarity or common sense to the discussion. Micheal always acted in the best interest of ladies’ football and the best way we can honour him is to continue to do our best to promote the game and raise the standards as he always did”, the secretary noted.

The secretary went on to explain how many fixtures were cancelled due to the lockdown before giving details of the revised fixture schedules. “Despite all the restrictions, we did successfully manage to run off a full fixtures schedule albeit a little condensed but I think you would all agree we had some great football displayed across all competitions. Unfortunately, while training and matches resumed attendance at games went from 50 to 200 then to behind closed doors. This caused major headaches but again we all stepped up and got on with it.

Sympathising with “anyone who had responsibility for standing at a gate this year and turning people away” she said she hoped “the supporters who got turned away will continue to support our games in the coming year”.

“Apart from the U14 competition all other competition reached their conclusion according to schedule before lockdown part 2 was imposed on October 28. Our underage competitions commenced on July 26th with the U12 Peil na Cailini 13 a-side which saw 21 teams competing across 4 divisions over an eight-week period. This provided a much-needed distraction for these young girls and gave them an opportunity to meet and train with their friends in a safe environment. Great credit must be given to all the management teams of these girls for following the guidelines as set out thus ensuring the health and well being of all involved”, according to the secretary before going on to give details of how each of the championships concluded.

Thanking all who worked for the promotion of the game, she had a particular word of praise for those who served as Covid officers. “The one lesson we can take from 2020 is that it is possible for us to run games off according to the fixtures schedule and this is something we must continue to do in 2021 and beyond.

“2020 was the year of the ‘if she can’t see it, she can’t be it’ campaign which highlighted the importance of raising the profile of female athletes providing role models that young girls can aspire to”, commented the secretary before acknowledging “the excellent coverage provided for our games this year by our local media”,

Looking forward to 2021 the secretary said “there will be lots of challenges related to the continued restriction associated with Covid 19 which will dictate how we conduct all our activities. Fixtures will always present a challenge, but I do feel with better levels of cooperation between clubs and the Fixtures Committee we are making good progress in this area. Fundraising will be difficult in 2021 again due to restriction so I think we will have to think outside the box in terms of our fundraising activities”.

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