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Quiet Times for Allianz Cumann na mBunscol   01/04/2020

All schools in the Republic were ordered to close on the 12th of March due to the Covid 19 virus and, at time of writing, it is unclear when schools will reopen. It is equally unclear when normal activities such as Cumann na mBunscol meetings and school matches will resume.

‘It is a strange time for all of us’, according to Liam Magee, who is Cathaoirleach of Cumann na mBunscol and Principal of St Columban’s Primary School in Belcoo, Co Fermanagh. Schools in Northern Ireland were directed to close on March 20th until further notice. Some schools had to remain open for the educational supervision of vulnerable children and those of key workers up to Year 10 where alternative arrangements could not be secured.

‘The last term of the school year is normally the time when the Cumann na mBunscol season reaches its climax. Hurling and camogie competitions are decided, with finals usually staged in the county grounds. Many counties organise primary schools Sports Days. These are a highlight of the last term and involve tens of thousands of children across the island. Of course, the INTO GAA Mini Sevens, organised by Cumann na mBunscol,  are affected also. These games have been running since 1987. 240 children drawn from every county in Ireland get the opportunity to play in Croke Park on the biggest days of the GAA calendar. Gerry O Meara is National Mini Sevens Organiser. Gerry would usually have been informed of the names of the lucky boys and girls by early May but everything is uncertain at the moment. We don’t know when, if, or in what form, the GAA Championship will go ahead this year.   There are also mini games played in each of the four provinces involving boys and girls from primary schools in the competing counties. Last year, for instance, almost 500 boys and girls played in the Munster GAA Primary Game and those numbers are replicated in the other three provinces. Ideally, games will resume and schools will reopen after Easter but, it is in the lap of the gods. Members of the Coiste Náisiúnta are in regular contact with each other and we hope to be back on the pitches whenever public health guidelines allow.’

In the meantime, there is no shortage of resources available for those children who want to avail of the break from school and hone their skills. Dublin star Ciarán Kilkenny, a muinteoir himself, was quick to start giving coaching tips on his Twitter account. His teammate Diarmuid Connolly dropped by one day to add his coaching tips. Ciarán’s Twitter page is @CKKilkenny93.

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid provided free classes on his Facebook page every Tuesday and Thursday combining GAA skills with basic exercises to keep children active and engaged. Limerick GAA stars James Ryan  and Peter Nash post coaching tips on Twitter at @LKCoaching Games. These are just a sample of activities online for young players. The GAA itself embarked on an online educational initiative on https://learning.gaa.ie/primary-school. Each day, it published a series of learning activities and skills challenges to support academic and physical education needs.

2021 marks fifty years since Cumann na mBunscol was founded. As part of our 50th celebrations, it is planned to produce a history of Cumann na mBunscol. This unexpected school closure sees many of us with time on our hands in what is usually the busiest time of year. This is an ideal opportunity to sift through the minute books, the Press cuttings and to trawl through the records of Cumann na mBunscol in your own county. Joe Lyons and Ciarán Crowe  will be compiling  this publication and they look forward to contributions from every county and provincial unit of Cumann na mBunscol.

We are living in unprecedented times. When schools reopen, Cumann na mBunscol will be ready and willing to recommence activities with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.





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