Belfast Telegraph

Charles kicks off symbolic ‘game of two halves’ in Northern Ireland

The prince blew the starting whistle for a game which brought together young rugby and Gaelic Athletic Association players.

The Prince of Wales is pictured at the Palace Demesne, Armagh during his two day visit to Northern Ireland. The rugby and GAA players present HRH with two shirts as he left the Palace.
The Prince of Wales is pictured at the Palace Demesne, Armagh during his two day visit to Northern Ireland. The rugby and GAA players present HRH with two shirts as he left the Palace.

The Prince of Wales played referee for a symbolic match between teams representing both sides of Northern Ireland’s religious divide.

Charles was visiting the Palace Demesne, home of the current offices of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, where he blew the starting whistle for a “game of two halves” which brought together young rugby and Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) players.

One overzealous young player skidded across the pitch and landed at the feet of an impressed Charles before the game had even begun.

GAA is predominantly played in schools run by the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland, while rugby had traditionally been associated with state schools, where Protestant children are more likely to attend.

The GAA was represented by St Patrick’s GAC Armagh and the rugby team came from the Armagh Royal School.

Hopefully it's moving away from the old notions, I spoke to a few boys today from the Royal School who say they already play GAA, and the same applies the other way around - that would've been unheard of 20 years ago Ciaran McLaughlin, Ulster GAA

Vice-chairman of Ulster GAA Ciaran McLaughlin said the game was “extremely symbolic” of the future of Northern Ireland, moving away from previously held stereotypes.

“The game is part of a community outreach programme, we have Ulster Rugby and Ulster GAA coming together to try out the skills from GAA and rugby in a fun environment and bringing children together through sport,” he said.

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Prince Charles met Ulster and Ireland Rugby star Rory Best and Manager of Armagh County GAA, Kieran McGeeney during a 'game of two halves' which brings together young rugby and GAA players

“One half of the game will be GAA, the other will be rugby, and the children will be split into mixed teams to play against each other, we’re seeing more and more clubs doing it.

“Hopefully it’s moving away from the old notions, I spoke to a few boys today from the Royal School who say they already play GAA, and the same applies the other way around – that would’ve been unheard of 20 years ago.

“It’s extremely symbolic and I think it’s why the council were so keen to highlight the good work that’s going on.”

Ulster and Ireland rugby star Rory Best and Armagh County GAA manager Kieran McGeeney were also present to meet the prince.

Charles spoke at length to Mr McGeeney, appearing to ask about the skills involved in the sport.

The council has ambitious plans to build a new sports facility which can be enjoyed by the entire community, with both local rugby and GAA clubs lending their support to the new facility.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales speaking with the new Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane during a visit to The Bank Buildings in Belfast, where a fire broke out in a Primark store in August 2018, nearly caused the iconic structure to collapse. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 22: Prince Charles, Prince Of Wales during a visit to Belfast on May 22, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall attended a walkabout and visited the Primark store following the blaze which destroyed the iconic building last August. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are pictured meeting people in Belfast City Centre as part of their 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Picture Matt Mackey / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye The Prince of Wales is pictured at the Palace Demesne, Armagh during his 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. The rugby and GAA players present HRH with two shirts as he left the Palace.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye The Prince of Wales is pictured at the Palace Demesne, Armagh during his 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. He met Ulster and Ireland Rugby star Rory Best and Manager of Armagh County GAA, Kieran McGeeney during a 'game of two halves' which brings together young rugby and GAA players
The Prince of Wales is given a guard of honour by pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, after an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales blowing a whistle during an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales signing the visitors book at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh with Armagh Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell, sitting infront of portraits of his ancestors King George III, and Queen Charlotte, painted by Scottish portrait-painter Alan Ramsey. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED WITH CORRECT CAPTION The Prince of Wales meeting members of the Lugan District Loyal Orange No.6, during his visit to Brownlow House, Lugan, on the second day of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED WITH CORRECT CAPTION The Prince of Wales during his visit to Brownlow House, Lugan, on the second day of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales looks at the Ulster rugby and Armagh GAA county jersey he was presented by pupils from The Royal School, Armagh, and St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh, following an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales is given a guard of honour by pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, after an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales is given a guard of honour by pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, after an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meeting the choir during his visit to Brownlow House, Lugan, on the second day of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales with pupils from St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh and The Royal School, Armagh, during an engagement at Palace Demense in Co. Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales at the Finnebrogue Artisan event in Downpatrick, Co Down, on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets 9-month-old Margot Dixon, Esme Dixon, 2, and Denis Lynn at the Finnebrogue Artisan event in Downpatrick, Co Down, on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
HRH The Prince of Wales meets members of the Hebrew Community at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales meets members of the Hebrew Community at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales meets guests at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
The Prince of Wales during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales unveils a plaque during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
HRH The Prince of Wales unveiled a plaque at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation today to mark the installation of two new stain glass windows in the Synagogue. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales pictured with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as he visits at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
HRH The Prince of Wales meets Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as he arrives at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation. Photo by Aaron McCracken
The Prince of Wales speaking with the new Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane during a visit to The Bank Buildings in Belfast, where a fire broke out in a Primark store in August 2018, nearly caused the iconic structure to collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 22nd May 2019 - The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured meeting people at the Belfast Welcome Organisation in west Belfast during her 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. Belfast Welcome Organisation has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1977. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland.Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales during a visit to Belfast Synagogue on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visit the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall arrives for her visit to the Belfast Welcome Organisation which has been providing potentially life-saving services and support to people affected by homelessness in Belfast since 1997. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales attends a reception at the Grand Central Hotel hosted by The Spirit of Belfast to celebrate those involved in delivering the success of the tourism and artisan food sectors in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

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