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GAA GPA All Stars with local Breezy Point home owners in November after Hurricane Sandy Photo by: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Gaelic Players Association and Aer Lingus team up to help rebuild Breezy Point’s sporting dreams

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GAA GPA All Stars with local Breezy Point home owners in November after Hurricane Sandy Photo by: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Tipperary hurling star Lar Corbett and former All-Stars Brian McGuigan and Ollie Canning are part of a GPA work party workin in  Breezy Point New York this weekend with the support of Aer Lingus to help with the reconstruction of the community’s youth sports facilities destroyed during last year’s hurricane.

GPA chairman Dónal Óg Cusack along with former Dublin All-Ireland winning manager Pat Gilroy are heading the 18-strong team consisting of former players, tradesmen and engineers, along with a number of Aer Lingus volunteers, all ready to roll up their sleeves and make a practical contribution to the rebuilding effort.

The visit will serve to promote the on-going fundraising efforts by the Breezy Point community as they continue to rebuild and repair the area’s sports amenities while the GPA is also donating sports gear and equipment.

The project is being spearheaded by Cusack and Gilroy following the visit of the GAA/GPA All-Stars to the Rockaway Peninsula last November. Having witnessed the devastation first hand, the GPA pledged to return to assist with the local CYO Athletic Programme which caters for the youth of this unique Irish-American community.

Thanks to the help of Aer Lingus who are carrying the work party to the US, that pledge will become a reality when the Irish team arrives in Breezy Point today ready to join the local effort to get the facilities up and running as soon as possible.

Speaking about the visit GPA chairman Dónal Óg Cusack commented; “The visit by the travelling GAA/GPA All-Stars to this extraordinary Irish-American community was a very moving experience last November. We were invited out by the local people, to bring the Sam Maguire and help provide a boost to morale. However, when we got there we were taken aback by the extent of the devastation. We were equally inspired by the spirit of the community; there was a real sense of joy in seeing players arrive in the area. It was at that moment we resolved to return and provide some practical support to the reconstruction effort – and helping the local sports programme through our friend and community member Tim Devlin was, we felt, the best way to do that.”

Aer Lingus Director of Communications Declan Kearney said, “Many of the residents of Breezy Point are long-standing supporters of Aer Lingus and we felt it very appropriate for us to repay some of that support. When we were asked by the Gaelic Players Association to get involved in the project we had no hesitation in offering our support. We are delighted to make a contribution to the rebuilding efforts.”

Breezy Point resident Tim Devlin commented: “In Breezy Point we lost not only our homes but many of the buildings and athletic fields used by our community organizations. When the GPA reached out to donate to our community I suggested our CYO Athletic Programme. The GPA project has enabled us to replace the gym floor and sporting equipment lost in the storm as well as provide new uniforms to all of the participants. The GPA’s interest in Breezy Point has also spearheaded an expanding fundraising effort among many Irish and Irish-American organizations.”

Deputy Consul General in New York Peter Ryan, who co-ordinated two ‘Irish Days of Action’ for the communities most affected by Hurricane Sandy, including Breezy Point, is assisting with the effort. The Ireland Funds is also supporting the visit.

The group will stay on site in Breezy Point and will work alongside the reconstruction team. A high profile fundraising event will also take place in Manhattan and a delegation from the team will attend to promote the visit and the on-going efforts to rebuild the community.

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