Tag Archives: CoronaVirus

Love Conquers Lockdown As Cappagh Royalty Wed

“On the way to church all our neighbours were out with flags and banners. It was really, really lovely but very emotional. That certainly wouldn’t have happened if it was just a regular wedding, they’d probably all have been down in the church already”

By Robert Cox

When members of the British Royal Family get married adoring fans line the streets three or four deep, waving their Union Jacks as the wedding cortege passes by and on May 1st 2020 something very similar happened in a little village in North Kildare. The destination was Newtown Church, different country, different roads, different flags, different circumstances, different kind of royalty but royalty nonetheless!

Regina Gorman is a name synonymous with Cappagh GAA and in many people’s eyes she is the Queen of Camogie in the club and as in London when the Queen gets married, the locals lined the roads to wish her well and catch a glimpse of their hero in White. In this case it’s not the first time Regina will have paraded in front of her fans in white, having done so for many years as she lined out for her beloved Kildare, included in that is an All Ireland Final appearance in Croke Park.

A wedding during Lockdown due to the ongoing Covid19 pandemic was always going to be different for many reasons and when Regina Gorman married her partner of four years David Dunne on Saturday May 1st in the beautiful Newtown Church, many things had to be adapted to meet regulations and to adhere to social distancing. But just as Regina had faced challenges aplenty through the years on the Gaa field, she once again faced this one head on, making sure nothing got in the way of her and David’s special day.

The former Scoil Dara Kilcock pair stuck to their initial wedding date despite dodging with the idea of pushing it out until September as Regina explains; “We booked the wedding initially for the 1st of May and when lockdown hit and it looked like it wasn’t going to go ahead, we were going to push it out until September 26th but as time went on and it looked like it wouldn’t be able to go ahead in September either, we sat down and debated over it for what seemed like an eternity, while in fact it was probably only a couple of days. But the 1st of May was our initial date and we just made the decision to stick with it despite the challenges.

It was hard though because in my family alone there are seven children in it and none of my siblings could be there. David only has two sisters though so we decided to have both our parents and his two sisters Elaine and Therese in attendance. One of my brothers is in England and I have a sister in Donegal and one in Wexford so unfortunately none of them could have been there anyway. So we just said that if they all couldn’t go then none of them could go. That was a difficult decision to make. That and not having our close friends there wasn’t easy. David’s groomsmen are both living abroad, one in Australia and one in America so unfortunately they weren’t able to make it either”

Despite these setbacks the pair were determined to go ahead with their day and make the most of it and let there love shine through. “The day itself was lovely. The original plan would have seen me staying in my parents house the night before but obviously we couldn’t do that. Tradition had to play second fiddle during these times and the two of us just stayed here in our home in Kilbrook and David went over to his mother’s the next morning.

My sister came over to my house the morning of and we had a lovely, relaxed time, despite the standard nerves. My sister Breda made my bouquet and I did have a girl come and do my makeup and hair. She adhered to all the guidelines as best she could and wore a mask throughout which was a bit different”

When the time came for Regina to go to the church, she admits it was such a lovely surprise to see all her neighbours and friends stand at their respective gates and wish her well by waving flags and cheering. And with that the Queen of Cappagh was on her way to meet her Prince. “On the way to church all our neighbours were out with flags and banners. It was really, really lovely but very emotional. That certainly wouldn’t have happened if it was just a regular wedding, they’d probably all have been down in the church already!

The church itself was beautiful. Father Paul said the mass and Catherine Nealon, a friend of mine did the singing. She was amazing, it was literally just Catherine singing, no music. She has a gorgeous voice and really added to our day.

David printed out pictures of all my siblings faces and had them sitting in the front row so that was nice to have them there in some shape or form though I have to admit I didn’t notice them sitting there at first when I reached the top of the aisle. He also had his groomsmen Gary and Declan and my bridesmaids Breda, Caroline and Hazel done out as manequins. They were made from planks of wood, with tripods on the bottom. They were even dressed in dresses and suits, it was so funny and a lovely touch. We had the mass broadcast on Zoom so it was nice to know our family and friends could get to see it and were with us”

After a beautiful mass and tying the knot the new Mr and Mrs Dunne, with photographer Darren Byrne in tow, went to the picturesque moate at Cloncurry for some wedding photos but not before they were treated to another surprise; “When we came out of the church the Cappagh girls did a drive by, hanging out of the cars, blowing the horns and cheering, that was very special and a bit emotional. I’ll never forget it and they are such a brilliant bunch of friends and team mates. David’s cousins also did a drive by for us and I could see how much it meant to him. It was just little things like that which added to our day. Darren Byrne was brilliant, he took us up to the moate here in Cloncurry, a spot we really love and he took some pictures.

Photo by Darren Byrne Photography

Thankfully we then got to call out to the garden in my parents house and we got to the same at David’s home. Things got a bit different from there. Instead of heading off to what would have been our wedding reception in Glasson House, we came back to our own house, just the two of us but we had a beautiful evening.

My sisters and David’s had come together to decorate our house for us and had an amazing dinner prepared, so that was special. Once again the internet came to the rescue and we had our reception via Zoom, live from our sitting room”

Despite having to adapt their day to suit lockdown, Regina reflects that she still feels like she got to see and meet people and has no regrets with their decision to go ahead with their special day; “At the end of the day I felt like I’d seen people. I know I hadn’t seen them in person but I didn’t feel like I’d missed out really.

We are delighted we went ahead with it because as I said we did debate over it a bit. When we initially started talking about the wedding, before the days of Covid19, we said we might have a small wedding anyway but that thought didn’t last long. We wanted all our friends and extended families in attendance so we decided on the big Irish wedding. Going back to the small wedding due to restrictions wasn’t easy but we are glad we went ahead with it.

We had our rings and I had my dress and David his suit so atleast we will get two wears out of those! So when this is all over and things get back to a new normal we will have our reception as originally planned in Glasson House. They have been brilliant in accomodating us. We won’t have it unless everyone from abroad can make it, ie my brother and David’s groomsmen. It will be all or nothing when the time comes. We don’t want a cloud hanging over it and people worrying about catching the virus or social distancing. Even if we have to wait a year or two, we will, just to do it right. If that means waiting until there is a vaccine then so be it. I don’t think social distancing will work at a big Irish wedding”

At the time of going to post, the newly weds should be sunning themselves on their dream honeymoon to South Africa and Dubai as they had been set to jet off on the 14th of May and this Regina explains is one of the big disappointments; “I’m really disappointed about the honeymoon to be honest. The wedding I am fine about because we are married now and of course I am delighted we did it and we had great craic on the day.

Regarding the honeymoon we were meant to be gone for the guts of a month. I don’t know what will happen with that now. I am kind of holding out hope that we can maybe go in January 2021 but honsely I am not sure. We also had other trips planned for later in the year and we’ve had to pen those for now also”

One thing is for sure the couple, who met on October 2016 on a random night out, will face all these challenges together and their love for each other will win out as they start their married life during uncertain times across the world.

Regina, who lined out for years in the white of Kildare is well used to taking on whatever life throws at her having suffered the heart break of missing out on an All-Ireland Junior Camogie Final success with Kildare due to a long term injury in 2013, though she was still involved as a selector for the year. The versatile player, who made her debut for the Lilys in 1999, was involved in a League and All-Ireland Junior A Championship success in her time in white but the blow of not getting to win an All-Ireland on the hallowed turf of Croke Park in 2013 was a bitter pill to swallow. She would later get to grace the Croke Park field at centre back in the 2015 Intermediate final against Waterford but it was The Deise who won out on the day by 2-09 to 1-05.

Photo by Karl Gormley

“I made my Kildare debut in 1999 and retired in 2016, taking two years out to travel in between. Obviously there was the odd injury too, most notably in 2013 when I missed the All-Ireland Premier Junior success. That was hard to take but I was delighted for the girls and was still glad to be a part of it as a selector for the year. There was also a good few of my team mates from Cappagh involved so that was extra special. I had some great days in the white of Kildare and have made some great friends along the way.

I’m still plugging away with Cappagh, club is where it all starts and to say I love Cappagh would be an understatement. My best friends are all Cappagh girls and though we didn’t win much through the years, we had some great times and managed to compete at the top table in Kildare for the majority. Last year was special, we won the Kildare Intermediate Championship and though once again I was injured, I managed to get onto the field in the final late on. That was a great day. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field when things return. Gaa wise it’s hard to tell when that will be”

At the outset we mentioned how Regina was Cappagh Royalty and nowhere was this more evident than when she made a substitute appearance near the end of last year’s final success against neighbours Kilcock. The roar from the Cappagh faithful as she entered the fray was deafening and lit up a wet and dull day in Rathcoffey. It was at that moment we all realised the regard in which Regina is held in Newtown and its surrounding areas.

Photo by Karl Gormley

Those same fans were once again to the fore on the 1st of May 2020 as the Queen of Cappagh made her way to her local church in Newtown to marry her Prince David and as they begin married life together, one thing is for sure they will not let lockdown, honeymoon cancellations, injuries or pandemics get in the way of their love for life and for one another.

Their friends may have been as much fun as a plank of wood on their wedding day but atleast they had each other!

Life In Lockdown With Grace Clifford

By Robert Cox April 2nd 2020

It’s March 8th and on a wet and windy afternoon in Dr. Hyde Park, the Kildare Ladies Footballers have just eeked out a hard fought win (0-13 to 0-08) over their hosts Roscommon in Division 3 of the league.

The win sees Kildare qualify for the final and extends their 100% record in 2020, with five wins from five under their belt. Things are really beginning to take off for this team, following some barren years since the county won the 2016 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship.

The last thing they need is an obstacle outside of their control been thrown into the mix. The team’s recent run of good form is the culmination of two years hard work under the guidance of Galway man Daniel Moynihan and his management team.

Now in his 3rd year at the helm, Moynihan and his team have unearthed some new talent, who have all added greatly to his panel and played their part alongside experienced campaigners in the shape of Siobhán O’Sullivan, Erica Burke, Róisín Byrne and Mary Hulgraine. To Moynihan’s delight the last three are back in the fold having missed the last few seasons for various reasons. And remember the trio also have All-Ireland medals safely tucked away in their back pockets, this are no ordinary threesome.

Back in Roscommon, the team congratulate each other on their most recent success, high fives all round, (little did they know that in a few weeks they wouldn’t even be able to meet never mind high fives) they know they’ve been in a battle and at the back of their minds they also know this result is a break through. This was game they would have thrown away in previous seasons. But this side have an added steel about them, with leaders around the field, none more so than team Captain Grace Clifford.

Clifford has just put in another monumental performance, driving her team on from midfield, an inspiration to some of the newcomers and a leader to all, just has she has been throughout her Lilywhite career, especially since been named Captain in 2018.

The Eadestown player was also part of that successful All-Ireland winning side of 2016 and now in 2020 she is determined more than ever to get this current side moving in the right direction. She more than anyone will be thrilled at qualifying for the league final and will be already planning for their most likely finalist opponents Down in a few weeks time.

With only the winners gaining promotion to Division 2, Clifford knows it’s time to park the Roscommon success and is already looking forward to putting in a few hard weeks training back at Hawkfield.

They still have two league fixtures to fulfill and given her winning mentality, she will want to win them too and make it a perfect seven from seven. Nothing is going to stop her and her team mates in their quest for glory she thinks as she boards the bus from Roscommon back to Kildare. Their time is now.

Fast forward a few weeks and with the country since in lockdown due to the CoronaVirus, we caught up with Clifford (over the phone of course!) for a chat to see how she was coping with isolation and restriction from seeing her team mates, extended family, friends and to see how she found working and training at home alone.

What was life like for an Inter County Captain during Cov19. Thankfully for the Recruitment Consultant, who resides in Eadestown, her job means she can work from home and as we called it came as no surprise that on her break she was out for some fresh air and exercise, determined to keep up her level of fitness ahead of any possible return to Gaa action in the coming months.

Clifford is not one to rest on her laurels. A lot had happened since that afternoon in Roscommon, with the joy of reaching the league final, turning to disappointment a week later when the powers that be in the LGFA pulled the plug on the remainder of the National League for 2020 (it won’t be finished at any stage) due to the current CoronaVirus pandemic sweeping across the country.

One feels maybe they made the decision rather hastily and could have looked at potentially finishing it in the autumn. All training had been cancelled and as mentioned above the country had more or less gone into full lockdown, with people asked to stay within a 2km radius of their home.

Clifford for one had to adapt in more than one area of her everyday life, but as usual she was upbeat and positive about the challenge ahead. “Yeah look it’s a crazy time for everyone, Covid19 was something that none of us were prepared for. It’s something that hasn’t happened in our lifetime and please God it will never happen again.

I think what it has shown us is that your health is your wealth. Regardless of our status in life, you are not immune to something like this”

Clifford, who won a Kildare SFC with her local Club Eadestown in 2018, counts herself lucky that she resides in the area, out in the countryside, where she can get out and about without worrying too much about bumping into people;

“I suppose for me I am lucky I live in the countryside in Eadestown so I am able to get out for a good run and walk and thankfully I haven’t really had to go into the towns too much in the last couple of weeks, aside from maybe going to the shops for my mam, so I have found the social distancing part easy enough to adapt too”

As usual Clifford is finding the positives from a bad situation and sees this as a time for people to regroup and take stock of their lives, something she certainly intends to do.;

“I’m a very positive person and am trying to find the positives out of the current situation. Personally for me the last number of years have been go, go, go what with college, training, work, all these things. And like so many I’ve never really had the opportunity to sit back and appreciate the simple things in life. So it’s from that maybe all of us could try and take the positives. To maybe take a step from our busy lives and take stock.

I’ve found that from been at home and been around the family all the time has been nice, though maybe if you ask me that again in a few weeks I could have a different answer!!!

Working from home

Having attended Carlow IT, Clifford now works as a recruitment consultant, where thankfully she can continue her work from home.

“I work as a recruitment consultant so as you can imagine job interviews are probably the last thing that people are thinking of or worrying about at the moment but to be honest we have been pretty lucky and have been relatively busy over the past couple of weeks.

I’m going into week three now working from home and despite initially been unsure how I’d get on with things, I’m actually enjoying it so far. Obviously I miss the company of my work colleagues in the office but I’m content with the change for now.

I’ve actually had a lot of job interviews happening and companies still working, looking to move on ahead. These are companies that are maybe been prepared since the last recession. I think people are utilising the technology we have now days, with the likes of Skype and Zoom to hold interviews, whislt also respecting the governments restrictions.

Overall working from home has been different but it’s nice to have a change every now and then. I’m grateful that I could continue in my role from home as I know so many people have been temporarily laid off. I’m also grateful to my company for doing their bit and for providing that option for me”

Daily Routine

To make it and maintain a career both on and off the field you have to have a good worth ethic, discipline and routine and though we know from the outside looking in that the County Captain possesses all these traits in abundance, she explains to us the importance of sticking to her routine during this difficult time;

“I’m a real stickler for routine. For me I’ve been doing my work and then lunchtime is when I do my workout, so I either do my run or my home gym. That’s really been unbelievable, I find that brilliant.

Then in the evenings after work I always make sure to get out for a good walk as well, while also getting out to the gable end of the house with a football and work on some skills to keep the eye in.

Again keeping this routine has helped me to stay positive and then maybe at the end of the day I would pop into the team’s group chat and send pictures of what work I had done that day. Then seeing what the others girls post too, it helps keep that communication going.

I’m obviously keeping to a very similar routine to my eating habits too, which can be a bit of a challenge at times when you are at home all day”

Keeping in contact, training in groups at a distance and management with Kildare

Going from spending so much time together and working towards a common goal since last November of winning the league has been pulled right from under the noses of Clifford and her Kildare team mates but as she she says they are in plenty of contact, working hard separately and now very much looking forward to Championship when football returns;

“We’ve a really good squad there with Kildare this year, doubled up with a great management and S&C coach, who we’ve been working with in our groups over the last few weeks, putting in amazing work, trying to stay relatively fit. We’ve been given different challenges, runs and home workouts to do.

Everything has been put in place to adapt and respect the guidelines by the HSE and the Government, while still getting out and for our physical fitness. But maybe more importantly, as our management have stressed, to get out for the goodness of our mental health also. In fairness all the girls have been great at keeping spirits up.

Again we were disappointed that the league was cancelled but at the end of the day some things are bigger than football so we’ve taken it on the chin and are looking to moving forward together as a group. As a group we are now looking forward to having a good crack at the championship when football finally does return.

Everyone is linking in and been there for one another. Personally the girls have helped me stay motivated and as a group we are taking one day at a time, knowing every day is one day closer to returning. I think at this stage all the girls will even be relishing to returning to do some pre season runs”

League Cancellation

As supporters of the LGFA, we were obviously disappointed with the cancellation of the league for 2020, especially for teams like Meath and Kildare, who were in excellent positions in their respective divisions but as Clifford explains (despite her own disappointment) that sometimes football has to take a back seat in the greater scheme of things; ”

The news of the league’s cancellation was obviously devestating for us at Kildare. From a footballing perspective we’ve been building towards this with Daniel and his team for a couple of years now and not only since last November. It’s been a work in progress that was beginning to bear fruit.

Our goal was promotion and everything had been going so well. Who would have thought that something like this would be the reason we wouldn’t be getting to play. 2020 has been a bit crazy, first all the storms and now this.

People might say that it’s very trivial to be worrying about sport at a time like this and I agree 100% but this is such a big part of our lives. It was a bit dis heartening to see that the league had been cancelled so quickly, particularly as the Gaa and Camogie Associations came out and said they would reassess the situation in April, when we all might have more of an idea where we are at with this.

But I guess more importantly we are respecting the guidelines and pulling together as a country to try and flatten the curve and that’s the main aim right now.

Again in the grand scheme of things football isn’t that important but naturally enough when you are training together for so long and it is such a big part of your life, you just want to be successful.

The fact that we now know that the league won’t go ahead, any glimmer of hope or motivation for that success is gone given the finality of the decision, though some people may disagree and argue that you are better off knowing your faith from the outset.

As I said above, we are a positive group and we have already turned our attentions to the championship, whenever that may be”

Post Covid19

Been a Manchester United, Clifford is ever the optimist and knows that the LGFA championship will go ahead in 2020, without knowing what structure it will undertake yet. You can be guaranteed she will with have both herself and her team well prepared;

“I’m been sure that there will be some sort of championship that will go ahead and we’ll continue to train for that in a positive way. We are all doing our bit for our communities and we all want to get back to normality as soon as possible.

Obviously our main focus as a group was promotion in the league, we weren’t even thinking about championship but that has changed now and all focus is on the championship to pick up where we left off and continue that winning streak right throughout the year and see where it takes us.

We’ve a really good group there and I feel we deserve to win some silverware after the work we put in.

On the club front with Eadestown, look it’s always competitive winning at any grade in Kildare, especially at Senior, any side can do well on any given year. I’d be hopeful that we’ll have a successful year. The girls are working extremely hard under new management and like everyone the girls just want to play football.

Honestly I just cannot wait to get back on the field and training with everyone, it’s the commerardery and banter that you miss most. When we return we will all definitely appreciate it more”

One thing is for sure if anyone can help this Kildare side through these difficult few months and help them repeat days like that afternoon in Roscommon at the start of March, then their inspirational Captain Grace Clifford can.

She’s proven that it be at home or at Hawkfield, behind the phone or in the centre of the huddle, things stay the same. Routine, hard work, leadership and most of all positivity makes her the leader she is. And Kidlare is all the better for her.

Photos with thanks to Karl Gormley