Review of Sports awards ceremony
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A mighty crowd gathered in the Radisson Hotel Sligo this week to celebrate
 sport in all its guises, team sport, volunteers dedication, individual
 achievement, coach of the year and international participation were amongst
 the categories - the inaugural Sligo Sports Awards were upon us.

 We, representatives from Eastern Harps GAA Club, proudly took our places
 and awaited our names being called, as we were winners of the "Community
 Participation Initiative Award".

 It was announced that this particular category had received numerous
 nominations, our own coming from Padraic and Catherine O' Dowd.
 Our Chairman Padraic Henry ambled from his seat to the podium, although we
 can't prove it, we feel he took his time as he was writing his acceptance
 speech on approach! Either that or he was awe struck having spotted Paul
 McGrath sitting in his way.

 His laid back attitude stood to him once again as he raised the first laugh
 of the afternoon when he described how our journey to this accolade

 "Some of them approached me with this idea to get lots of people to join in
 a version of TV's Operation Transformation, I thought they were mad, but
 sure I just nodded at them"

 He was right, we were a bit mad, we hoped 100 people might be as bad as us
 and join up, but sure the whole place went mad and we had 180 people
 traipsing the highways and byways of the Club area this year.

 Before our first OT ever saw light of day, Kerry McKeon took on the job of
 blogger for us. Sadly Kerry died a short time later, after only 2 blogs,
 and subsequently his father took over and has provided many an entertaining
 tale in the past years. Three years ago, in fond memory of Kerry, the
 "Kerry McKeon Literary Award" was launched, supported by the McKeon family.
 This is an essay writing competition for 5th and 6th class students from
 all the surrounding school, and has now become an established part of the
 school year. It's a fantastic way to involve children who may not have an
 interest in sport.

 Our community involvement was only getting started, and we began to really
 examine how we could reach further into our local community. We facilitated
 a cardiac screening program, and more than 60 young people attended and
 were screened. A resilience program was put together and delivered to young
 people in the area, club members and non members were all welcome.

 Then another bright spark decided getting women out playing Gaelic (most
 never having kicked a ball in their lives) was a great idea. The Chairman
 nodded, and Gaelic for Mothers and Others arrived on our doorstep. The
 bright spark must have been right, as it heads into its third year, with
 more women than ever involved. They won a colander one year, who knows what
 they'll bring back in 2017!

 The men couldn't be left behind, and got themselves moving, Men on the Move
 arrived on our shores in 2016. This we thought might be a difficult one to
 get going, but I don't know if it was the "no women" policy or what, but
 they came in their droves, and have already 3 seasons moving behind them at
 this stage.

 Next it was the youth who stepped up to the plate, with the Recipes For Success.
  (pardon the pun)
 This came as a result of an invitation to go to St Angela's College to partake 
 in a cookery demonstration and later to show their football skills in Markievicz Park. 
 This was all videoed and is now being used by Croke Park to promote Healthy eating within the GAA.

 On a cold Sunday not long after Christmas last year we were so pleased to
 organise a walk with two very local connections in mind, Dylan's Path to
 walk and Strangeboat Organ Donation Foundation. This walk epitomized
 community spirit, there was a huge turnout, and it left no one in any doubt
 that our community pulls together when times are difficult.

 So if we do say so ourselves, the judging panel made a good call when they
 awarded our Club this award. Our community participation is growing ever
 deeper with each year that passes. We're a GAA Club, but we aren't confined
 to those who play or support Gaelic. We hope to be a club that embraces the
 entire community, we want to bring people together and develop real
 connections in a time where people seem to have become less connected.

 We have a few more ideas that we'll be exploring, and if you, the reader,
 has any ideas of your own you'd like to bring forward then please do so,
 you might get a nod from the Chairman!

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