Coronavirus: Na Fianna players put their shoulders to the wheel for those at risk

Na Fianna are providing community assistance amid the outbreak

Na Fianna and Dublin senior footballer Niall McGovern. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Na Fianna and Dublin senior footballer Niall McGovern. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

With no collective training over the coming weeks, Gaelic footballers and hurlers in north city Dublin have decided to put their energy to use amid the coronavirus outbreak.

While older people and those with underlying health issues are most at risk to Covid-19, the senior footballers and hurlers of the Na Fianna GAA club are at the opposite end of that spectrum. But they’re determined they can do their bit to help, and therefore have set up a community assistance programme.

“We as players are aware of the potential hardships the coronavirus could bring, and we wanted to utilise our free time and evenings by offering our support to those in our community who are less fortunate than ourselves,” explains Dublin and Na Fianna senior footballer Niall McGovern.

“Although we might see the coronavirus as an inconvenience and we can’t train, there are people a lot less fortunate than us and it poses a lot bigger challenges for them. For example, the elderly not being able to go to the shops.”

McGovern proposed that, as a team, the club’s senior footballers looked at ways they could help and support others in the community. His team-mates were keen to get involved, as were the club’s senior hurlers and other volunteers, and so the community assistance programme was created.

McGovern – a former Dublin Under-21 captain – felt it would “be a really nice thing to do and it brings us back to our ‘why’ and the core roots of Na Fianna”.

“Depending on the number of queries and requests that we receive, I have set up a Google document and we will have a rotation system in place. So five players will be on call on a Monday evening, another five players on call on Tuesday and so on. All emails and calls will come to myself and I will then co-ordinate and assign tasks to the players.

“A simple example of how we could help someone would be: if an elderly woman needs groceries, fuel or medication but is reluctant to leave her house in the fear of picking up Covid-19 while in a public place or shop. Our programme will allow that person to contact us so we can take her order and go to the shop for her. A simple pick up and drop at the door service.

“Obviously we will need to be diligent in protecting ourselves and others in everything that we do too. But our volunteers are here to help you or a family member who may need assistance or be reluctant to leave the house.”

Along with McGovern, his Na Fianna club-mates Jonny Cooper, Eoin Murchan, Conor McHugh and Aaron Byrne are also on Dessie Farrell’s Dublin squad and among those players giving their time to help their community.

Last Tuesday the GAA announced a blanket ban on all club and intercounty activity until March 29th, meaning teams are currently not training or meeting collectively.

The Na Fianna community assistance programme can be contacted by emailing community@clgnafianna.ie while other contact details are available on the club’s social media accounts.

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