Updated: September 19th, 2023

Oakleaf Lions volunteers are Ulster Volunteer of the Month winners

Three young volunteers from the Oakleaf Lions GAA For ALL group in Co. Derry have been jointly awarded the Translink Ulster GAA Young Volunteer of the Month award for August 2023.

The award is presented to volunteers who best demonstrate the volunteering ethos and community spirit of the GAA. The Oakleaf Lions exclusively promote the ‘GAA For ALL’ ethos, catering for both children and adults with disabilities.

Aisling Kennedy, aged 23, and Cara Murray, aged 21, both from Ballinascreen, and Aine Flynn, aged 18 from Slaughtneil, have been volunteering with Oakleaf Lions since its formation in April of this year and the girls have been integral to its success to date. Aisling, Cara and Aine were involved with the Lions group that played during half-time at the Ulster SFC Semi Final between Derry and Monaghan at the Box-It Athletic Ground back in April. They also helped run an inclusive day at the GAA World Games held in Derry this summer where over 50 players attended, and last month they travelled to Dublin with the Oakleaf Lions team that took part in the Ulster GAA inclusion day in Croke Park.

Ciaran McLaughlin, Ulster GAA President, commented: “Great admiration must go to the Oakleaf Lions and all clubs that have embraced the GAA For ALL initiative. The enjoyment that Games for All brings to participants and their families is incredible and I encourage clubs yet to do so to consider starting up their own GAA For ALL group.”

Ciaran continued “I am delighted to recognise Aisling, Cara and Aine, who typify the individuals driving our GAA For ALL success. The girls’ friendly and thoughtful manner in encouraging children and adults with a disability to be comfortable trying new things is outstanding, and it perfectly demonstrates the spirit of GAA For ALL.”

Commenting on the impressive efforts of this month’s joint winners, Stephen Willis, Inspector at Translink, said: “At Translink we pride ourselves in keeping everyone better connected. The spirit of inclusivity which Aisling, Cara and Aine have demonstrated, reflects our commitment to providing accessible and user-friendly services which everyone can benefit from. We commend the work that these young players have put into welcoming other young people of all abilities to help them enjoy the sporting community.”

Brian McGuigan, Oakleaf Lions Secretary, added: “Aisling, Cara and Aine initially had no connection to anyone in Oakleaf Lions, they simply saw on social media when we were starting out and got in touch. The girls bring energy and kindness to each session and are loved by the players and parents alike. They are amazing role models to all our players, particularly our female players, and we would be lost without them.”

Applications for the September Translink Young Volunteer of the Month award are now open. To nominate a young person aged 14-24 for the accolade, visit ulster.gaa.ie/youngvolunteeraward.

Ulster GAA will be hosting a Provincial GAA For ALL blitz on Saturday 7th October at Donaghmore GAA, Co. Tyrone 12-2pm. This event will be open to all ages and abilities, and those that aren’t ready to participate in the games will have opportunity to use the skills in a fun area. Any club that wants to find out further information, contact shane.mccann.ulster@gaa.ie or paul.callaghan.ulster@gaa.ie.