Durcan becomes mental health ambassador

Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan was in Croke Park on Tuesday for the launch of a new mental health partnership between Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health and the Gaelic Players’ Association.

Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan was in Croke Park on Tuesday for the launch of a new mental health partnership between Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health and the Gaelic Players’ Association.

Durcan is one of 25 players taking part in a mental health literacy education programme with Headstrong to act as Youth Mental Health advocates in their communities. The players are taking part in a mental health literacy education programme with Headstrong.

The programme involves the players being inducted in mental health literacy with Dr Tony Bates and Dr Joseph Duffy, Director of Clinical support with Headstrong. The programme devised by Headstrong involves education around listening skills, how to handle a difficult conversation on mental health and will involve the GPA members in public meetings and a social media campaign.

“Headstrong have joined the GPA, asking us to be ambassadors for them,” Durcan said on Tuesday. “They are in eight counties at the minute and plan to come to Donegal in the next few months. At the moment, they’re planning on exactly where in the county they will move into.

“The GPA gave me a shout and it’s something I can work with, working with kids if I’m doing coaching. We did a workshop last month and went through some of the signs that might indicate mental health difficulties and we were taught how to approach children and encourage them to talk to you. It helps our own communication skills and things you can talk about. It’s extremely interesting and there’s a lot of stuff you wouldn’t necessarily have realised.”

After the trials and tribulations of Donegal’s Ulster championship and run to the All-Ireland semi-final, Dublin City University Business School and the Gaelic Players Association announced that Durcan, Sligo hurler Patrick Quinn and former Louth hurler Michael Martin were granted scholarship places on the Executive MBA Programme.

Having satisfied this year’s entry requirements and the selection process, Durcan, a quantity surveyor/project manager who works for Errigal Contracts in Dublin now also studies on the MBA two-year part-time programme.

The scholarship with DCU Business School forms part of the GPA’s Education portfolio under its Player Development

Programme established in 2010. The Four Masters clubman, who was nominated for an All-Star last year, fills his busy schedule either training with Gary Kelly, a Dublin based goalkeeping coach, and Jim McGuinness’s senior county panel.

“I was going to to further my own career in quantity surveying and after talking the the GPA they said to me that there might be other ways to diversify and further my career,” Durcan added. “It’s something I hadn’t really thought of but when they came to me with the opportunity they did, it was great to get in. It’s a good course.

“I’m still working with Errigal Contracts, A dry lining contractor, based around Blanchardstown and working in the Mater Hospital with a few projects in Dublin and the UK as well. So I’m busy and we’re lucky enough to be working in the industry.”

The other ambassadors for the GPA/ Headstrong initiative are Ger Brennan (Dublin), Finian Hanley (Galway), Ciaran McKeever (Armagh), Ciaran Hughes (Monaghan), Aiden Carter (Louth), Conor Lynam

(Westmeath), James Fitzpatrick (Cork), Brendan Murphy (Offaly), Shane O’Sullivan (Waterford), Hugh Coghlan (Tipperary), Gary Cox, (Roscommon), David Breen (Limerick), Eoin Joy (Limerick), Stephen Molumphy (Waterford), JP Rooney (Louth), Dick Clerkin (Monaghan), Enda Muldoon (Derry), Niall McCarthy (Cork), Darren Hughes (Monaghan), Rory Stapleton (Laois), Shane McAnarney (Meath), Leighton Glynn (Wicklow), Neil McManus (Antrim) and Marc Ó Sé (Kerry).