On Thursday 21st January, we unveiled the winners of the 2020 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Awards, which sees Minors from all four provinces of Ireland being honoured for their outstanding off-the-pitch contributions in their communities during 2020.
Having missed out on a host of coming-of-age moments over the course of 2020, including the culmination of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships, these unique Electric Ireland GAA awards have taken into consideration the difficulties experienced in 2020 by players and communities across the country, and aimed to bring a major moment back into the lives of this age group. The awards were judged by All-Ireland winning Tyrone Minor, Colm Cavanagh, former Minor Kilkenny forward, Aidan Fogarty and representatives from the GAA and Electric Ireland.
Antrim’s Michael Quinn, Josh Schnell, Shane McKenna, and Niall Óg McGuigan from Ruairí Óg Cushendall GAA club were awarded the Ulster Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Award for their brave efforts in saving the lives of a young family who had gotten into distress while swimming on the beach. In June 2020, the four teenagers from St. Killian’s College had been enjoying a day at White Park Bay when they noticed the young family had gotten into difficulty while in the water. Thinking quickly and courageously, the boys rushed into the water and successfully prevented a certain tragedy.
The Connacht Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Award was awarded to Strokestown GAA’s Jack Beirne and Andrew Jordan and St. Barry’s GFC member, Mark Rodgers for their outstanding efforts in raising over €60,000 for the Childhood Cancer Foundation. Jack himself is a childhood survivor of Leukaemia and had benefitted from the Childhood Cancer Foundation’s services. As part of a Transition Year project, Jack, Andrew and Mark purchased an old tractor in the hopes of restoring it and selling it, with the proceeds going to the charity. When word spread around the community of the project, people from Roscommon began donating parts to help support the cause. The project went from strength to strength, and they began selling raffle tickets for the now fully restored tractor, which will be raffled off in early 2021.
Meath Minor and Trim GAA wing back, Ciarán Caulfield, is the Leinster winner of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Award for organising a 500km socially-distanced run, which helped raise vital funds for the heart-warming ‘Do it for Dan’ campaign, which was set up to raise funds for one-year-old, Daniel Donoher so that he could receive life-saving treatment for a rare spinal disease. In March 2020, Ciarán’s school team, St. Patrick’s Classical School Navan, qualified for the final of the Paul McGirr Cup however, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the final was ultimately cancelled. Ciarán, who was captain of the team, realised morale amongst his teammates was quite low and saw the fundraiser as a chance to lift the spirts of his teammates and friends, while also raising vital funds for ‘Do it for Dan’.
Limerick Minor and Doon GAA goalkeeper, Tomás Lynch, was honoured with the Munster Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Award for becoming a mentor and coach to the students of Doon C.B.S. in Limerick. The Transition Year student from Scoil na Tríonóide Naofa was unable to take part in his Work Experience programme in September 2020 due to Covid-19. Determined not to stay at home and miss one of his key learning experiences though, Tomás reached out to his former primary school, Doon C.B.S., for outdoor work experience opportunities. The school’s principal was delighted that Tomás was able to take the students every Tuesday for hurling sessions, and the students were extremely engaged in the sessions and Tomás also put together training programmes for the students to follow at home.
Speaking about the award winners, Edel McCarthy, Head of Sponsorship & Brand at Electric Ireland stated: “Electric Ireland is delighted to recognise these Minors with an Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Award for their outstanding contribution to society in 2020. In what has been an extremely challenging year, the winners have stood up, put other’s needs first and have positively impacted their local communities.”
Uachtarán CLG John Horan said; “’On behalf of the GAA, I would like to congratulate each of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Award winners. These awards showcase that the GAA is not just about what happens on the pitch, but that the community is at the heart of everything that we do. These young men are a credit to the Association, their clubs, their families, their schools and, most of all, themselves. We are delighted to support these Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Awards and thank Electric Ireland for their continued support for this age group.”
Former Tyrone footballer, Colm Cavanagh added: “I was very proud to be on the judging panel for these Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition Awards. All of these young men have shown incredible initiative and bravery, as well as maturity beyond their years, and they should be very proud of themselves. I am delighted that Electric Ireland and the GAA have recognised their efforts and the incredible impact which they have had on their communities in 2020. While we hope that they can get back on to the pitch soon, they have demonstrated what the GAA is truly about.”
The introduction of these four special awards further highlight Electric Ireland’s commitment to investing in and the celebration of young talent through its sponsorship of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships. These awards have given Electric Ireland the opportunity to showcase the extraordinary talent that exists within this age group, and has allowed Electric Ireland to herald their fantastic achievements off the field of play, celebrating these young players at a time when this age group has missed out on so many important coming of age moments.