Some of Ireland’s top GAA stars, with the support of Aer Lingus, will lead a work party to Breezy Point in New York at the end of the month where they will help complete the reconstruction of the local CYO athletic program facilities destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.
Cork hurler and chairman of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) Donal Óg Cusack, along with former Dublin All-Ireland winning manager Pat Gilroy, will head the 17-strong team consisting of former players, tradesmen, engineers and officials from the GPA and Aer Lingus who are ready to roll up their sleeves and make a practical contribution to the rebuilding effort.
The idea came about following the visit of the GAA/GPA all-stars to the community last November. Having witnessed the devastation first hand, the delegation, including Cusack and Gilroy, pledged to return to assist with the rebuilding of the CYO’s community sports facilities destroyed due to the flooding. The GPA is also donating sports equipment and playing gear to the CYO members.
Now, 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 on the Rockaway Peninsula ready to join the local effort to get the facilities for the children of the community up and running as soon as possible.
“When we arrived in Breezy Point last November we were shocked at the extent of the devastation – television footage and pictures did not reflect the destruction and loss. However, we were equally moved by the spirit of the people in this unique Irish-American community,” said Cusack.
“Their sense of joy in seeing GAA players arrive, particularly with the Sam Maguire Cup, was genuine and inspiring. It was at that moment we resolved to return to offer our support to the reconstruction effort.”
Irish Deputy Consul General Peter Ryan, who coordinated two Irish Days of Action for the communities most affected by Hurricane Sandy, including Breezy Point, is assisting with the effort.
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.