Three-time All-Star and four-time All-Ireland winner, Kieran Donaghy, is this year leading an important GAA initiative in partnership with Sky Sports. The Kerry man is on a journey to shine a light on the work of the Super Games Centres, an initiative which aims to keep young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen playing GAA. It’s an initiative which is close to Kieran’s heart after he himself stepped away from the game at the age of fifteen for almost two years.
From this Wednesday (19th June), as part of the GAA Championship Review Show (Wednesdays at 9pm on Sky Sports Arena), Kieran will be exploring the various factors contributing to youth dropout in the sport and more importantly, discussing what can be done about it.
On this week’s show, Kieran chats to underage coach and Clare legend, Jamesie O’Connor, before visiting his first ever Super Games Centre in Colaiste Eoin, Carlow on next week’s programme.
Speaking about his involvement in the initiative, Kieran said: “The Super Games Centres encourage teenagers to stick with the sport through player empowerment and a focus on fun and participation over winning. It takes the stress and the competitive element away, which is why I think it’s so important. Teenagers today face enough pressures without feeling stressed on the pitch too.
“A lot of teenagers today aren’t having fun and probably aren’t getting a game. I was one of these kids. I fell out of love with GAA and almost didn’t find my way back, but I’m living proof that you can re-focus your mindset. For me, I had to start enjoying it before I could really develop my skillset as a player.”
The GAA Super Games Centres are one of three initiatives that Sky is supporting as part of its continued investment of €3m in Grassroots GAA over five years. As well as providing equipment and kits for the SGC centres, Sky also supports Super Games nationwide with ambassador visits. Previous ambassadors that have supported the Super Games include Conor McManus, TJ Reid, Con O’Callaghan, Jonny Cooper, Paul Geaney, Carla Roe and Joe Canning.
Over the course of five weeks Kieran will visit three Super Games Centres; Colaiste Eoin in Carlow alongside Carlow footballer Paul Broderick, St Mary’s Grammar School in Belfast alongside Antrim hurling star Neil McManus and De La Salle College in Waterford under former Waterford manager Derek McGrath and alongside Waterford captain Noel Connors. Kieran will conclude his journey with a visit to Na Fianna in Dublin to see how, at club level, they are also trying to fight teen drop off and how the concept of the Super Games Centres and its values can be reflected at club level.
Tune into the Championship Review this Wednesday at 9pm on Sky Sports Arena as Kieran begins his Super Games Centre journey.
Kieran will also be back in action on the Sky Sports analysis team for the football qualifiers on 29th June.