USGAA Newsletter: May/June 2020

Click here to read about the USGAA COVID-19 Response

GAA & USGAA Respond to COVID-19

As we navigate through the current Global Pandemic, and the impact it has on our daily lives, we recognize that at this time, in many aspects, organized sport is very much a trivial matter, and maybe even an irrelevant matter.

However, we know that many of you want to look to the future and understand what post-crisis events might look like, and in this case the 2020 USGAA Season.

Obviously, the below comments come with the large caveat that we are living through a fast-evolving situation, and everything is subject to change. 

What we know:

  • The situation is unprecedented in this lifetime, indeed maybe many lifetimes;
  • Making predictions or plans is foolhardy, because the situation changes daily;
  • Social-distancing, along with good hand-hygiene and proper coughing protocol, is the recommended “current best method” to stop the virus-spread – this obviously, and sensibly, prohibits the organizing of team sports.

What we don’t know:

  • The frivolous answer to this is “everything else”, but probably the most obvious unknown is when normal life will resume.

What to expect:

The GAA is a community-based organization – that is its core and its strength.

When this current situation passes, and it will pass, GAA members will have the opportunity to show leadership in their communities, by ensuring a quick return to normality – games should be put on the field at the first opportunity.

To say that the 2020 season will be different may turn out to be an understatement, however we do expect there to be a season of some form, and therefore we should all be ready to hit the ground running when restrictions are lifted.

Until this happens, we can all play our part to reduce the impact of the Novel Coronavirus disease, to get us to the “No new cases today” phase, to shorten the lockdown and restrictions period, by encouraging our families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to respect social distancing, hand-hygiene, coughing protocol, and any other Local Health Authority requirements. 

Stay ready, stay healthy, and stay safe.

A bit of history

On February 28th, 2001, the GAA took the then unprecedented step (for modern times), of postponing all Intercounty games for one month, in addition to prohibiting any club games that required travel across County boundaries. Indeed, just as was the case this week, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin was also postponed.

The cause of these decisions was a confirmed case of Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) on the island of Ireland. As FMD was potentially devastating to the Agriculture industry, then, as now, one of Ireland’s leading industries, the GAA, other Sporting Bodies, and Event Organizers recognized the need to restrict unnecessary travel.

While the current COVID-19 pandemic is much different, its impact measured in human lives, and globally, the statements of the time contain many of the same phrases and directions that we have become familiar with in recent weeks:

  • Take advice from Local Medical authorities;
  • Continuously monitor the situation;
  • Don’t be selfish and inconsiderate – put the greater interest first;

The various restrictions that are now in place, and the challenges we face, are certainly unprecedented in living memory. 

However, one thing remains constant through difficult times such as these:  Community-based organizations such as the GAA, have a very important role to play. 

  • We can keep people connected, ensuring that even when in self-isolation people do not feel isolated;
  • We can encourage others to observe any local ordinances;
  • We can generate positivity and hope, which go a long way to lifting spirits.

And most importantly, when the situation stabilizes, as it did in 2001, we can be ready to resume normal life and “play ball”.

We hope everyone continues to stay safe, and USGAA looks forward to seeing everybody in action on the fields very soon.

In the words of R&B artist, Ciara: LEVEL UP

​We may not be able to train or play games (yet) but we still have the opportunity to stay focused on some ways to “level up” our skill set. On the USGAA Resources tab there is a link for Coaching Resources; from there you have three different sections that offer different types of information that may help your management staff introduce some variety into training sessions and match play. You can leverage the GAA Activity Planner for specific drills that are targeting offensive and defensive players. This tool is interactive so you can select your age group and then hone in on a position or type of training that your management team may want to accomplish. This is a great way to add variety and be prepared for training. In addition to this activity planner, the page has great resources on coaching videos that target: what qualities make an effective coach, what is an effective coaching environment, and what effective coaches do. These modules are share some really positive and helpful tips that may help your coaching volunteers take your team’s performance to the next level!

Train like a County Player: Niall Sludden edition

As a follow up to the Facebook Live Q&A session that Nicola Carson, Philadelphia GDA, hosted, Niall Sludden, Tyrone County Player has given us a few different training sessions that could be used during the COVID-19 restrictions. Niall has given us two different types of training sessions, one is fitness focused and has different running drills and the other focuses on “ballwork” or skill development.

Fitness based training: warm up for 10 minutes by skipping, jumping rope, side shuffles and other mechanics.

Running: set up cones at 20, 40, and 60 meter marks. Run to 20 meter cone and back, then run to the 40 meter cone and back, then to the 60 meter cone and back. Do this 5 times in a row and then take a 3 minute rest. Repeat this drill 4 times.

Sprinting: set up cones at 20, 40, and 60 meter marks. 5- 20 meter sprints at 80% speed then 5-40 meter sprints at 90% speed, then 5- 60 meter sprints at 100% speed. Rest for up to 5 minutes in between each set.

TIPS: Apply this to your skill level, which means you may need to shorten the distance or start out doing less reps and then working your way up to the suggested session above. If you feel like your skill level has surpassed this drill then you can shorten rest time. Everyone is different so apply what suits you and remember to have fun with it!

Skill based ball work: warm up by using a wall to practice your skills. Work on your strengths and areas to improve. Kick off both feet at least 50 times. Catch the ball off the wall 10 times.

For this drill: Put 1 cone at point #1, put 1 cone at point #2, put 4 cones at point #3, put one cone at point #4.

Start at point #1, roll the ball and pick up at point #2, solo the ball through the cones at point #3 using both feet bounce the ball to point #4 and then take the ball back to point 1. Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat.

TIPS: Use both hands and feet, if you start to feel comfortable use 2 balls to solo and change direction you are going. Remember this can always adapt to different drills. Most importantly- have fun!


We’re All in This Together: USGAA community gives back

​Divisional PRO’s were asked: “What are clubs in your area doing to give back to the community during this time?” Philadelphia PRO, Ciara Trainor, reported:

“The Philadelphia GAA has partnered with several local organizations to start the Irish Community Relief Effort, a program to collect food and personal items for those in the community affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Each week volunteers package and deliver parcels to families all over the Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia GAA is proud to partner with the Irish Diaspora Center, Commodore Barry Club (The Irish Center), The Society of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and Irish American Business Chamber & Network, Inc. in this joint effort.”

We would love to hear what other divisions are doing to #giveback. Reach out to your divisional secretary/PRO with anything your club or division is doing to positively impact your surrounding community!

Hero in your Hometown

We have had many different hometown heroes come out during quarantine throughout the GAA community and in honor of Memorial Day we are highlighting Nicola Hennessy, who is an active nurse at the Veterans Affair hospital in Buffalo. According to Spectrum local news, the chalk challenge has taken over the VA hospital in Buffalo because Nicole has been drawing colorful murals on the outside walls in efforts to put smiles on the faces of fellow staff members and visitors.

While Nicole is responsible for the chalk drawings lining the entrance of the Buffalo hospital, the Chalk Challenge is an initiative by the VA at their hospitals and care centers across the country. Click here to read the full article.

Get Kitted Out with Masita

Did You Know?

Here in the USA and around the world, GAA members are doing good for their communities.

In Ireland, the GAA selects each year, five official charities. Each chosen charity receives a €20,000 donation. This is part of an on-going GAA initiative stretching back to 2008 that has seen the GAA select a number of specific charitable organisations and foundations each year in a bid to assist them in raising awareness about their work and also champion them in their fund-raising efforts throughout the coming year. In recent years, the work of the official GAA charities has also been highlighted on national match days such as the GAA’s annual health-themed All Ireland semi-final in Croke Park in August.

Learn more about GAA charitable giving