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Island’s female population in training for new GAA team

ARRANMORE’S female population is turning the negative of Covid-19 into an opportunity to establish a women’s GAA team on the island.

Arranmore has a long and successful soccer tradition but is less well known for its Gaelic football prowess. With the coronavirus allowing more people to work from home, a group of women on the island is seizing the opportunity to establish a team to compete in next year’s Island All-Ireland Gaelic tournament.

Kayla Early is among those who have been turning out two nights a week for training. She said the spirit to put together a decent women’s team is as strong as it has ever been.

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“There is no official GAA team here at all but each year we travel to a different island for the All Ireland GAA tournament,” said Kayla.

“A men’s team from the island used to enter but they wouldn’t be classed among the strongest and it was more about taking part.

“We have been trying for a couple of years now to field a team, as much for the craic as anything, but it never really happened. This year we have decided to give it a serious go because with Covid, there is a lot more women on the island than we would normally have.”

This year’s All Ireland tournament, which features nine islands dotted around Ireland’s coast, had to be cancelled. But next year the focus will be on Bere Island off County Cork. All being well, Arranmore ladies will be there flying the flag for Donegal.

“We are utilising what facilities we have and finding space where we can pass the ball. A lot of what we are doing is about fitness first and then technical ability. The majority of us, myself included, have never played before so we have a couple of lads giving us a hand.”

The two weekly sessions – one during the week and one at the weekend – have been regularly attracting impressive numbers.

“The plan is to have a women’s team competing on Bere Island in May and the momentum is there for that to happen,” added Kayla.

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