St. Mary's, Convoy create GAA history

First No-Smoking GAA Club in Donegal - see our Photo Gallery by Geraldine Diver

Peter Campbell


Peter Campbell

St Mary’s GAA club in Convoy is leading the way in the fight against smoking -  not only in Donegal but in Ulster as well.

It follows the launch on Saturday morning of its Smoke Free Club initiative.

St Mary’s is the first club in Donegal, and only the second club in the country, to adopt a Club Smoking Free policy at the club’s grounds.

St John’s in Wexford is the only other club to have such a policy.

However, Saturday morning’s  launch was told by Aoife O’Brien, from the Croke Park Health and Wellbeing department, that a number other clubs, including Parteen, Clare, Clara, Kilkenny and Achill in Mayo are to follow suit.

The Smoke Free Club is a HSE initiative and is being rolled out right across the country, in association with the Croke Park Health and Wellbeing Committee.

St Mary’s is one of 60 clubs from right around the country and one of two clubs from Donegal to be chosen from 100 clubs that applied to take part in a programme of health awareness.

Naomh Muire, Lower Rosses was the other Donegal club selected for the Health and Wellbeing programme.

“St Mary’s was chosen because of the inclusive nature of the club, catering for the needs of young and old men and also catering for people from different religious backgrounds, “ Aoife O’Brien said.

The launch was also attended was also attended by former Tyrone GAA chairman Ciaran McLaughlin, Chairman of the National Health and Wellbeing Committee, Dr Charlie McManus, former Donegal senior team doctor and Dunkineely GP and committed advocate of player welfare and health and wellbeing, Fiona Boyle, a Smoking Cessation adviser with HSE and Donegal GAA county chairman Sean Dunnion.

They all complimented the St Mary’s club for taking on the initiative.

There are currently 13 HSE Smoking Cessation clinics dotted right around the county and are there is to assist people who want to give up the habit of smoking, Fiona Boyle told the launch.  

Dr Charlie McManus singled out a number of anti-smoking posters for special mention and also outlined the dangers of smoking.

“There are 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette which is hard to believe given the size of a cigarette,” Dr McManus, told the launch.

“And 60 of them can cause cancer,” he added.

He also told of how the average smoker spends €4,000 per annum on cigarettes.

Donegal chairman Sean Dunnion, like all the rest of the speakers, gave anecdotal evidence of family members’ smoking habits. And his message to smokers was that it ‘s never too late to stop, and to young people that they should never start.

The guests were introduced by club chairman Conor McDermott who paid tribute to the club executive for supporting the initiative. And he had a special word of appreciation for Sarah Toye, the chairperson of the club’s Health and Wellbeing Committee and also a member of the Donegal Health and Wellbeing Committee who was the main driving force in the club behind the initiative.