Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has congratulated Gaelic Games winners from across the North after a fantastic year.
Speaking at a Stormont reception for Ulster’s club champions at all-Ireland and provincial level, the Minister acknowledged an accomplished season for local teams.
The Minister said: “Sporting success isn’t easy. It requires hours of practice, effort and dedication – sacrifices have to be made at every step of the way. The trophies here tonight are testament to this. They were hard-earned both on and off the field.
“I would like to offer my congratulations to the members of the various clubs and school teams represented this evening for the success you have achieved in your sport.”
Senior, intermediate, junior and school champions from across the GAA sports were present in Parliament Buildings. Among the guests were representatives of All-Ireland football champions Crossmaglen Rangers and hurling champions Loughiel Shamrocks.
The Minister continued: “While the focus is rightly on the achievements of the various teams and individuals, it is also appropriate to recognise the increasingly important role of those working behind the scenes to support you to prepare for competitions.
“I would like to give particular mention to the volunteers, coaches, managers, administrators, sponsors and school principals who have helped you all in achieving your goals.
“Also, it is important to mention the work of Ulster GAA. Gaelic Games are not only about sport in the North, they are a positive cultural and community influence here.
“Sport is extremely valuable in improving the quality of people’s lives regardless of gender, age, social or cultural differences. The celebration of sporting success serves to encourage participation in sport, something to which I am firmly committed.
Education Minister, John O’Dowd, also attended the reception. He said: “GAA coaches help deliver the Curriculum Sports Programme in schools across the north. My Department provides £1.5million per year for the programme which aims to develop the physical literacy skills of our youngest pupils, raise confidence and motivation and support a healthy lifestyle.
“Through the programme, Ulster GAA encourages young people from non-traditional GAA backgrounds to participate in our games, whilst also raising awareness of the association, helping to build good relationships and using sport to break down barriers.”
In closing, Minister Ní Chuilín said: “I wish you the best as you defend your titles, and look forward to cheering on Ulster teams as they continue strive for success at all levels in the future.”