Belfast Telegraph

Schoolboys compete in Gaelic Games

Schoolboys from one of Northern Ireland's royal schools have taken up Gaelic Games to compete in a novel cross-community tournament in America.

The five 15-year-olds from Portora Royal in Enniskillen teamed up with counterparts from the town's two Catholic boys schools and its integrated college to represent County Fermanagh in the ground-breaking event in New York.

The Cuchulainn initiative is part of the GAAs efforts to reach out to young people who would normally not get the chance to play the quintessentially nationalist game.

The boys from Portora, St Michaels, St Joseph's and Erne Integrated College took on US-based teams in the GAA's Continental Youth Championships in Long Island after beating the Ulster counties in the Cuchulainn Cup earlier in the summer.

Ulster GAA president Aogan O Fearghail described the trip as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I have no doubt the memories, the friendships, the games and the sightseeing will stay with these boys for the rest of their lives," he said. "The Cuchulainn initiative is Ulster GAA's flagship cross-community project which aims to promote Gaelic Games to those from non-GAA backgrounds while at the same time using sport to break down barriers and to help build peace and reconciliation among a new generation."

The Enniskillen Cuchulainns are the third cross-community team to represent their county at the annual championships.

"All 20 boys who took part in this programme are true ambassadors for their families and their schools," added Mr O Fearghail.

"They show that a new generation can rise above the prejudices of the past and they give all of us great hope for the future. I am delighted that some of the boys are hoping to join GAA clubs in Fermanagh, where they will be made to feel very welcome.

"We also hope to organise a number of games to keep the team together so that the boys and the schools can continue to benefit from this worthwhile programme."

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