“It’s a really fantastic job to be involved in”

“It’s a really fantastic job to be involved in”
Interview with BARRY DUNNE – Déise Óg Western GDA 
Gavin Whelan 
Apologies for the delay but we’re finally getting around to bringing you our chat with well-known Western GDA, Barry Dunne (audio piece with Barry can be heard via the link below which is included at the end of the article). Barry comes from the well-renowned Clashmore / Kinsalebeg GAA Club and brings a great level of enthusiasm and determination to the role. His attention to detail is second to none and no doubt everyone is looking forward to getting going again for 2022, and hopefully a clear run of projects and games!
I know we don’t like harping on about the Covid-19 situation but it was a slow start to 2021 and there didn’t seem to be too much light at the end of the tunnel; “There was such an uncertainty there at the start of the year in terms of actually what was going to happen in the short term and in the longer term” said Barry. “That was quite a challenge trying to figure out our plan, instead of having to plan for 3 months of 6 months, we probably ended up having to plan for much shorter periods of time just because of the way the restrictions were at the time. So the initial part of the year, there was obviously a lot of confusion, a lot of upheaval and your trying to figure out what can we do given the way restrictions were at the time but then obviously once things started to open up and once we kind of got back into the schools, it was great that a sense of normality came back to things“. It was a gradual process but I think getting back out on the field was the first thing and everything seemed to flow after that and it turned out to be a really busy and enjoyable summer. Barry said there was a great buzz around the place that first day they got back into schools and to see the enjoyment on the children’s faces; “Once you were actually out and about, and coaching, once the kids were getting out & about and playing some games and having a bit of fun, that brought a bit of normality back to their lives as well. So we were delighted to be able to facilitate that and we worked really closely with the schools to make sure that is always done in a very safe way and that it was always done in the most Covid compliant way that we possibly could but it was definitely a peculiar start to the year“.
The delight and enthusiasm across all clubs was really evident as they started getting back on the field, Barry described the situations as fairly hands on from their point of view but was thrilled to be back at it; “As the year went on, by the time the clubs started to get back out on the fields, not only were the players chomping at the bit to get out but the coaches were as well. Obviously it’s been really tough on the kids over the last 2 years at this stage but it has been tough on coaches as well, new coaches who want to bring on a team or want to develop players and want to get out & about again. That release back at the start of the summer was fantastic for the younger players and for the coaches just to get back doing what they love and what they enjoy. It was surprisingly how quickly things got back to normal in terms of the actual running of games and in terms of the competitions being ran or whatever, it was brilliant to have that“. Here’s hoping that trend continues this year and that we can enjoy a full programme of games and activities, that interaction between coaches and players, particularly at younger age groups often goes unnoticed and it’s an important aspect in terms of getting youngsters to the field. Exciting projects such as the Well!Kids programme will only enhance that and drive things further forward this season.
So as the Western Games Development Administrator (GDA), what area does Barry cover and how much is he enjoying the role? “I love it, coming into my 7th year now in the role, it’s the type of role that if you enjoy meeting people, if you enjoy working with people and helping clubs develop and helping coaches develop, it’s a really fantastic job to be involved in. So I cover the West of the county so essentially from, they way to kind of describe it is if you were to draw a triangle from Youghal bridge to Ballymacarbry right down to probably the fringes of Kilrossanty, that’s the area that I cover. So there would be 14 GAA Clubs, 29 primary schools and 5 post-primary schools within that so I basically work closely with all those different groups or whatever, helping out as best we can as regards to running GAA initiatives, or if any clubs comes to us with ideas or wants a bit of help with something, that’s our role then to come along and to make sure that we give them as much support and give them as much help as we possibly can. It’s a very enjoyable role, it’s obviously been a challenging role over the last couple of years but it’s been really satisfying being able to help clubs as well“.
Barry also heads up the Coach education programme which has gained huge traction over the last while from all the clubs; “The numbers that have engaged in our Coach Ed over the last 18 months or so has been just incredible really” said the Clashmore / Kinsalebeg clubman. “The amount of engagement that we’ve had across our formal courses, but also across webinars and other things that we’d have ran or other initiatives that we’d have ran in terms of the club side of things, people have really faced things head on and took on different things just to drive their own clubs on which is brilliant to see“. I’m sure there’ll be many more exciting projects to come in the months ahead, so watch this space and keep an eye on all the Déise Óg social media channels. We’re into 2022, throw-in that ball and away we go, here’s looking forward to the year ahead!
You can catch the full-Interview with Barry here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yi46GTl_kLI (all other Interviews are available on the Déise Óg YouTube channel which all includes chats with John Quinn – Mid Co. GDA, and David Robinson – Urban GDA).