Public Relations and the GAA – The Relationship

Public Relations and the GAA – The Relationship

Although I may not be a fitness fanatic nor play any sports (I once did, trust me), I am a huge follower of the GAA, both in my local club and county. In most recent years it has come to my attention the tremendous effects and benefits Public Relations has had on GAA and it is of course something I feel is worth mentioning. For those who do not know, GAA is an Irish Sporting Association consisting of Gaelic Football, Hurling and Handball, all at amateur level. That’s right, it is not a professional paid sport. Why you ask? Because of the strong Irish heritage that dates back hundreds of years and simply doing it for the love of it.

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SONY DSC

From social media to traditional advertising to brand marketing, it has undoubtedly opened up so many doors for both young talented players and organisations. With many sporting social media sites such as Joe.ie, Ulster GAA and Humans of the GAA, not only do they acknowledge young affluent GAA players, but it also creates brand awareness and revenue for that particular site as they put up analysis of games as well as stats and top scorers – it is of course the best of both worlds. Popular, renowned players are seen as god-like figures in this part of the world and someone most sporting nuts aspire to be, which is why many businesses seize the opportunity to liaise with such players to help promote their merchandises whether it may on Facebook, Instagram or good old fashioned advertising. This can be anything from Puma football boots to Murphy’s gloves. We all want the next best thing our sporting heroes have so it is certainly a great way of promoting the company as well as boosting sales. Moreover, seeing TV adverts such as Lidl sponsoring ladies football to Electric Ireland constructing their TV advert on the GAA Minor Championships, it highlights that the our beloved GAA is in the heart of every home in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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With GAA becoming not only huge in Ireland itself, it has broken into the US as well as many other prosperous countries including Australia and Dubai which is of course pumping not only extortionate money into the organisation but letting other cultures become aware of the sport! Not to mention, with many people getting sponsorships from across the water in places such as Canada, it goes without saying, that with GAA enthusiasm on the rise, it sure does open up a whole new window of opportunities for eager young people with Public Relations playing a huge part in this expansion.

Irish people take pride in their own people especially when it comes to playing the sport and it is fair to say we do all we can to ensure their talents and commitments do not go unnoticed! With many extravagant and formal awards nights including the Teamtalk Awards and the Irish News All Star Awards, Public Relations is at the centre of every function, big or small. It is enough to inflate anyone’s ego but is of course a fundamental way of highlighting the important place GAA holds in our community and that hard work really does play off. With special guests including sporting legend AP McCoy at this year’s Irish News All Star Awards, it is enough to get any typical PR agent jumping out of their boots!

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Public Relations and its close knit relationship with the GAA has had many positive successes in the past when it comes to raising money for campaigns or charities making it a go-to when looking for a strategy that is simple yet effective! One that stands out from the rest in my opinion is the most recent charity match hosted in Galway in September. The Galway team of 2017 (winners of the Hurling All-Ireland Championship) competed against the Galway team of 1988. The charity match was put together in an attempt to raise funds for the family of the recently deceased Tony Keady, who was named hurler of the year as Galway claimed the 1988 All Ireland Title. Not only is GAA a fun loving amateur sport, it is about helping a fellow comrade when you can and exploiting your skills to do so. This of course gained the attention from the media with many news reporters and journalists making their way to the scene as well as many press releases and social media sites giving it some attention!

What I love most about the GAA is that the amateur sport has been imbedded in us since toddlers and helps bring each and every community closer together. It is not played for money or fame, but for the love of it. It is your local plumber, primary school teacher, your uncle or dad, and that’s what makes it all the more special!

Shannon Grogan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-grogan-09712510b/ 

Football Fanatic

Not many things will get me up early on a cold wet and windy Sunday morning in January but football is the one thing that will.

I have been playing Gaelic football since I can remember for my local club St Marys Burren.

My family has always been involved with our local club from playing to supporting. From a young age I have always been interested in sport from swimming to Irish dancing to netball to gymnastics but football has been the one sport that I have always had a passion for and enjoyed playing.

I would encourage anyone to join a football team or to take up a sport or even re-join one as the benefits are life long and worth every session training in the cold and wet!!

 Four key life benefits that playing sport brings:

  • Working as a teamCF20It goes without saying that working as part of a team is key when playing football and most team sports for that matter. This is a quality that is rhymed off at many job interviews but playing football instils the skills working and communicating within a team and how your strengths can be part of something greater and work with others to achieve a common goal.

 

  • Exercise mental and physical health

An obvious one but training 2- 3 nights a week with a match at the weekend does bring your physical fitness levels up and there is no better feeling than feeling fit – all the shuttle run sprints are worth it come championship in the summer.

An aspect that is often over looked is mental health. Sport plays an incredible role on the state of your mental health. The positive effects playing sport has is often forgotten or down played, anytime I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed with work or university as soon as I put on my football boots I become focused and determined to do well in training it helps take my mind off whatever is making my feel stressed or anxious and helps me realise that there are other things going on in life and not to get bogged down on the negative aspects.

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  • Social Aspect:

One of the best things about playing football and sport in general is the friendships you make along the way. I have been playing football with some of these girls since primary school!

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The craic that you manage to have even when you doing hill sprints up the side of the Mourne Mountains just shows how strong the bond with your team mates can be. It is something that shouldn’t be undervalued the friendships you make with people in your local club and parish, some of the best nights out our nights with my team mates whether it be our annual dinner dance or club fundraising nights.

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  • Being part of something bigger

The GAA is a fantastic organisation to be part of. With a GAA club set up in most countries around the world it is a large organisation that still has the feel of a grassroots organisation with the local clubs the heart and soul of the GAA. My club St Marys Burren motto is “Ar Aghaidh le Cheile” which means forward together. This motto is something that is strongly practised within the club and whilst playing as part of our team. Playing support has instilled a sense of commitment and belonging to something bigger.

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My advice (although slightly bias)  for anyone reading this is to consider taking up a sport, it is never too late or for those who have fallen away to consider re-joining you cannot put into words the advantages that sport brings to your life so why not get stuck in!!

Caoimhe Fitzpatrick is a Final Year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at University of Ulster. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhef_95 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-fitzpatrick-0b8682110/

The GAA is a means of escape for us all.

There are many things I am thankful for growing up but the main one is being brought up by a family utterly obsessed with our national games. From the young age of five, I was sent out on a Saturday morning to the underage Camogie training and it was just great being let loose out on the GAA field. There’s no better way for a youngster to learn the ways of the world than to be thrown into the GAA deep end. This is where I learnt how to be a team player, how to be tough, how to become mentally strong and the likes.

The GAA teaches you discipline and focus, it teaches you to want something and to keep going, no matter how many times you get beaten, just like life you must keep going no matter how many times you may not want to.

One of the many joys of playing a team sport as a teenager is that I rarely felt unhappy or lonely as you always had your team mates to chat to. Honestly this was one of the main reasons I went to training on those miserable cold nights, it wasn’t all do to with winning championships or getting fit, although that certainly helped. It was seeing my best mates, the girls who I had grew up with, my friends for life.

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Now coming from a large parish, most of us went to different schools so training was the perfect opportunity to catch up on all those important teenage topics, “who is her new boyfriend?” or “what are you wearing to the Elk next month?” (The Elk was ultimate teenage disco in the mid-ulster area). We all developed the skills necessary to be able to run a few laps and get in the craic in that short time period.

As a teenager the GAA was a particularly important part of my life as it kept me on the right path and honestly kept me sane. The mounting pressures on young girls wherever it be from school work or the pressures to look a certain way. I found the GAA gave me a coping mechanism to deal with all these pressures.

Nowadays with numerous social media platforms young girls are open to much more of these pressures, may it be to get a certain number of ‘likes’ on your Instagram or Facebook posts or to maintain ‘streaks’ on Snapchat. In times like these, I am thankful that the height of our social media back in the day was Bebo, and yet I still had days that I felt down but what helped me deal with these pressures was playing a team sport, no matter how stressed or annoyed I was or how much I was dreading heading out to train or play a game in the pouring rain I always went knowing that I would feel so much better for going. Coming back home buzzing, in such a good mood with a big smile on my face. (Subject to victory).

It is so stress-relieving to be able to let out all that energy you have bottled up all day and run riot for an hour or so. Wherever it is kicking a ball around or ‘pucking’ up against a wall, it just lets you get away from it all and escape.

But by age 13, half of girls have given up sport completely with the main reason for quitting being that their friends weren’t playing anymore. Many also lack confidence and feel that they are not good enough to keep playing. With academic pressure building it is important for parents, teachers and girls to understand that being involved in sport actually helps you academically and with your health and well-being.

If there are any young girls reading this, please keep going. You will thank yourself later.

Now all this chat has got me buzzing for pre-season training come the spring.

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Obligatory Victory ‘Pile on’- Yes that is me waiting to jump on top of everyone! #tactical #KeepTheCupSafe

Carla McCloskey is a final year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/carla-mccloskey-14a47b10b/  and on Twitter @Carla_Mac12