St. Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh keeping club-members healthy in body and mind
By John Harrington
This week is Mental Health Awareness week, and it’s no surprise that St Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh GAA club are doing their bit to not just to raise awareness, but also actively help their members.
Promoting good mental health is something their Healthy Club committee have always put a particular focus on, and their latest initiative is just the latest of many.
Former club-player and founder of www.amentalhealthjourney.com, Conor Stone, is hosting ‘Mindfulness May' on Plunketts’ Instagram Live every Thursday at 7pm this month where he demonstrates simple breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises.
“At this time mental health might be more challenged than previously so for a while we were putting up messages on social media with basic tips for minding your mental health”, says Plunketts’ Healthy Club officer, Trish Maher.
“Then, after that, one of the lads in the clubs got in contact with Conor Stone and came up with this idea of doing this online course of mindfulness on Instagram.
“That's going on for four weeks every Thursday evening in the month of May and has been going down very well so far. A good number of people are taking part.”
It’s just one of a number of very positive community initiatives that Plunketts have run since the Covid-19 health-crisis began.
The excellent video at the top of his article produced by club-members Cian Boland, Amy Darcy, and Noirin Boland gives a good sense of just how involved the club has been in its local community surrounding the Navan Road in Dublin.
“For everybody in the club it has been non-stop,” says Trish.
“Everybody has just really bought into the idea of doing what we can for everybody in the community in whatever way we can.
“The first thing we started was our Pobal Phluincéid initiative which our Vice-Chairman, Ronan Doohan, was the main driving-force behind.
“There are two aspects to it. One is the dropping of the pharmacy prescriptions to elderly people in the community. I think a lot of GAA clubs are doing that.
“We actually had an Executive meeting last night and there are over 750 prescriptions dropped into elderly people at this stage.
“The other arm of it is doing the shopping for people. That was really, really busy for the first few weeks but has quietened down a bit in the last few weeks.
“That's an ongoing thing and will continue to go on for as long as is needed. It's the ordinary club members who are doing these jobs, collecting the prescriptions and the shopping and dropping them to the older people in the community.”
The response and generosity from our members & supporters for our #plunketts4pieta has been amazing. We’ve gone through the night and the donations and efforts are flying in. Míle Buíochas to you all 👏🏻👏🏻https://t.co/cB1uvn0HhP pic.twitter.com/TNedDdYqr1— St. Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh GAA Club (@plunketts_ie) May 9, 2020
Another hugely successful and worthy initiative was the club’s #plunketts4pieta fund-raising drive for the suicide awareness and prevention charity, Pieta House, which saw club-members run for a 24-hour period from 6pm on Friday May 8 to 6pm on Saturday May 9.
“It was just unreal, we couldn't believe the amount of money that raised,” says Maher. “In total, Plunketts will be giving a cheque for €25,000 to Pieta House.
“One of our members works in AIB and AIB were doing this thing where they would match money that was raised.
“So the Plunketts community, and it wasn't just here in Dublin, it was all over the country, it was in Canada, it was in Australia, all got involved. The buy-in was absolutely huge.
“We got people from as many countries to participate as we could and we raised €12,500 which AIB then matched.
“The buzz that it created was brilliant and the cause it was for was brilliant.”
Conor Stone, former player, founder of @AMHJourney will do simple and practical breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness is the act of bringing awareness to your senses & emotions in the present moment, without judgement, great to help relieve stress & anxiety. pic.twitter.com/B4lfVdhWM4— St. Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh GAA Club (@plunketts_ie) April 29, 2020
The current prohibition on playing matches and using GAA facilities has been tough on every GAA club and St. Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh are no different.
But Maher believes the solidarity that members are showing in the face of adversity will ultimately make the club even stronger when we come out the other side of this health crisis.
“It has definitely brought people together, no doubt about it,” she says.
“Most of the volunteers are already Plunketts members alright, but some of the people who are helping wouldn't be official members of the club or anything like that.
“The great thing that I think it might do is that it could bring some of the older generation and their families back into the club.
“The Pobal initiative where we are helping out the vulnerable and the people cocooning, they so appreciate that. I think the good-will that has come from it will have a knock-on effect in the club.”