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RNLI lifeboat crew take to the pitch at Croke Park to promote water safety partnership with the GAA

Lifeboat crew from around the island of Ireland, took to the pitch during Sunday’s (3 July) All-Ireland Senior Hurling semi-final at Croke Park, to promote the charity’s partnership with the GAA on water safety. Before Limerick and Galway battled it out for a place in the final and in front of a packed stadium and TV audience, RNLI volunteers, dressed in their full kit, unfurled a giant flag showing an all-weather lifeboat in action.

Alongside this activity, pitch-side interviews were done by RNLI Coxswain and Trustee Paddy McLaughlin, Antrim Hurler Neil McManus and the RNLI’s Head of Water Safety Gareth Morrison, who all shared water safety advice and highlighted the importance of the work of the partnership. Flanking the tunnel where the players came onto the pitch were RNLI volunteers Damien Payne from Dun Laoghaire and Jen Harris from Howth, who also stood alongside the team captains for the coin toss ahead of the match.

The RNLI and GAA water safety partnership was established in 2017 to raise awareness of drowning prevention and to educate communities on how to stay safe in and around the water. The partnership is part of the GAA Healthy Clubs’ programme and has seen RNLI lifeboat crew visiting GAA clubs around Ireland to deliver water safety talks to all age groups. Within a 10km radius of the 46 RNLI Lifeboat Stations on the island of Ireland, there are 333 GAA clubs. From the first year of the partnership, the GAA have invited the RNLI to Croke Park for an All-Ireland Semi-Final, where the charity has reached new audiences that may someday save a life themselves with water safety advice.

Also in attendance at the match was the RNLI’s Director of Lifesaving Operations, John Payne, Chair of the Irish Council, John Killeen, RNLI Head of Ireland, Anna Classon, Head of Lifeguard Services, Robbie Warrington and Natasha Davies, Head of Business Performance and Strategic Services. The RNLI hopes the success of the GAA partnership can be replicated with other organisations and groups to share the message of water safety as widely as possible.

Speaking about the event, Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety said, ‘This was an amazing opportunity to be given by the GAA and it shows the importance of working in partnership with organisations who share our values. With so many people watching and listening, we are bringing important water safety messages to a huge audience, that could one day save a life.’

Commenting on the partnership and his role in it, Antrim Hurler Neil McManus said, ‘I am proud to have been involved in this partnership from the beginning. Growing up in Cushendall, the sea is on our doorstep and there are more people using it and enjoying it, all year round. In our community, the lifeboat station and the GAA club are next to each other, and you see the shared values of volunteerism and pride in where you live. I know we can save lives in sharing this advice and I hope we can bring more people with us as we do it and make everyone a lifesaver.’