Down camogie players helping health workers

Down camogie players helping health workers

15 April 2020

THE Down camogie team is doing its bit to help frontline workers in the battle against coronavirus.

Big-hearted members of the team have donated their first sets of scrubs to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

The package was delivered by defender Aoife Savage, from Ballygalget, who is a dietitian in the hospital.

The camogs responded to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the shutdown of all sport by coming up with an activity that would both keep the team active and working towards a common goal as well as fund-raising for a deserving cause. 

Since March 23 they have been doing individual runs hoping that the whole panel will be able to run a total of 5,000km by April 30.

At the same time they have been raising much-needed funds for frontline workers and local homeless charities in the county during the coronavirus emergency. 

Two-and-a half weeks in and the girls are half-way to their target distance and have raised £2,500, which is pretty impressive given that as many as eight players on the panel are frontline workers — a fact that has sometimes placed restrictions on their involvement.

Aoife gives a breakdown of where her team-mates work.

“Caoimhe Byrne is a nurse here in the Ulster Hospital and Frances Toner is a clerical officer here as well.

“My sister Alannah is an assistant psychologist in Whiteabbey Hospital, Aoife Keown is a physiotherapist in Daisy Hill in Newry and Dee (Deirdre) McCabe is a nurse in the Royal.

“Then Danielle Harrison is an occupational therapist and Maria McNally is a dental nurse.

“Thankfully none of us have had to isolate, although some have had to adjust living arrangements so that they are not in contact with vulnerable relations,” she explains. 

“The fund-raiser has given everyone a focus and been good for team morale, but it has been challenging at times to get the mileage done.”

Aoife is one of three sisters currently in the Down panel.

As well as Alannah, Queen’s student Blánaid had just returned to action in the last league game against Carlow on March 8 following a series of injuries that had side-lined her for the past six months.

There are a further two sisters, Deirbhile who, alongside Aoife, won an All-Ireland Junior medal with Down in 2014 and under 16 player Saerlaith.

Aoife has her four siblings all lined up for a special assignment in July when she is due to marry Down hurler and Ulster GAA hurling development officer Danny Toner, also from Ballygalget.

“We are getting a little nervous about the wedding. At the moment all the plans are in place for it to go ahead on the scheduled date. But we cannot be certain what is ahead.

“We had all planned to avoid camogie and hurling hot-spots. But if sporting action resumes there might now be games on the day.

“If we are still on lock-down, then we have to chase another date, avoid hurling and camogie fixtures of course.

“I’m sure it will all work out some way or other.

“There are many more serious issues going on around us at the moment and that is why it was important for us young and healthy Down players to find something useful to do to alleviate the situation for the health workers and the homeless.”

If you wish to contribute to the Down camogie fund-raiser, follow the link