Ballina GAA club remain eager to assist
By Cian O’Connell
GAA clubs throughout Ireland continue to provide valuable assistance for the vulnerable in their community.
Ballina, perched on the Tipperary and Clare border, have been proactive in trying to seek solutions, to help those in need.
On Friday evening Ballina PRO and Vice Chairperson Sandra Blaser commenced a project intent on offering support, alongside other groups in the area.
The co-operation has been significant and people are being catered for in a most diligent and reassuring manner. “I wondered what are we going to do about this?,” Blaser says.
“Three of us are in our own little WhatsApp group together - the secretary, chairperson, and myself. I'm the PRO and vice chair. So I said is it okay if I start this off. We just started on Friday evening and by Sunday evening we had more than 100 volunteers.
“What we thought was important was to be involved with other community groups like the Family Resource Centre in Killaloe, who look after people in this area.
“Then we thought about the chemists, GP, the priest, all of that type of stuff. We don't necessarily know who the vulnerable are, but they do. That is really what we did.
“We have a set of instructions that we use. The Tipperary Volunteer Services - there is one of those in every county, the PPN, who are linked back to the Department of Community and Rural Affairs.
“They have given us guidance too and we are on their list. We have also registered with the Redcross list. What I did was to try to do it above board so that we were vetted and all that type of stuff.”
That the reach has extended beyond simply club members is important to those involved with Ballina GAA. Anybody needing a dig out will be offered valuable assistance.
“It is not just the club at this stage,” Blaser adds. “People have extended outside of the club, volunteers wise. We are keeping in contact with the guards, who contacted me about getting a call from an elderly lady, who didn't really know where her next shopping was going to come from.
“She had rang the guards. We were able to contact her, she actually didn't need anything that day, she was just scared. We were on Tipp FM and Clare FM on Thursday too.”
The Smith O’Brien’s club across the bridge in Clare too are also ready, willing, and able to answer calls. “We automatically got on to Smith O'Briens too, who are across in Killaloe,” she explains.
“I said what I've done, this is who I've registered with, and this is how you can get garda vetted. I just passed all of that on to them. We have the Family Resource Centre in Killaloe so we are operating on both sides of the bridge.
“They did some of the shops on one side, I did all of the chemists and shops on one side. That type of way, we took it between us. We are basically helping each other out. They went on with us on Clare FM yesterday.”
Inter-county players from Ballina Steven O’Brien and Michael Breen have made skills videos which is keeping the juvenile section active and entertained. “The club is also doing a daily video on our Facebook page,” Blaser adds.
“Steven O'Brien did one day, Mikey Breen, then we had Tipp minors and other players, who have done a day one challenge, a day two challenge. They have done a video and we are posting those daily to keep it interactive. That brings a bit of banter too.”
Ultimately, though, the community spirit which exists matters hugely at this tough time. “All the groups are linking up with us, rather than just having splinter groups,” the Ballina GAA PRO states.
“If we come across something we can get on to the Family Resource Centre because we aren't going to go beyond our remit. We are only dropping off at the front door. That is all we are doing. We can pass stuff to the Family Resource Centre, the Volunteer services groups, the PPN's all across are excellent.
“We have been given our own liasion officer. We've made sure to do it above board, to try to link in with everyone. They refer to us and we will refer to them.” There might be no on field action, but important work continues.