Castletown Liam Mellows GAA club started a rounders team three years ago as part of their GAA Healthy Club project.

Since their first training session with 30 people, the team now play in a competitive rounders league and recently came second in the league’s all-Ireland final. At the core of this inspiring group of women is the importance of making time for yourself, meeting new people and just having the craic.

Healthy Club project

Castletown Liam Mellows Rounders team was one of the initiatives that came to life as part of the GAA Healthy Club initiatives. The aim of the GAA Healthy Club project is to transform clubs into hubs for health within their communities.

For rural areas like Castletown and Coolgreany, there have been huge benefits to the wider community since participating in the initiative.

Liz Gardiner, who chairs the Healthy Club committee, explains the idea came from brainstorming on a whiteboard with the Healthy Club team.

The committee decided to organise a training session with a member of the rounders association to see if anyone would be interested.

“We said we will just put it out there and see who turns up,” explains Liz.

When nearly 30 women showed up to the first training session, they were pleasantly surprised. Since 2021, with more training, their just-for-fun rounders team has become more competitive.

The team train twice a week during the league season and have matches all around Ireland on Saturdays. They have two coaches: Pat Cody and Seamus Kavanagh.

All-Ireland finalists

The Castletown Liam Mellows Rounders team is made up of a number of women from the locality.

Located in the sunny southeast, along the coastline of Co Wexford, this rural community are championing women getting active in their local area. The team made it through to the rounder’s junior ladies All-Ireland finals, where they lost out to Carrickmacross Emmets this past weekend on 19 August.

We spoke to three members of the team about why they decided to get involved in rounders and what they have gained from the experience.

Edel Coade Morris

After hearing the rounders team was starting in the club, Edel rang Liz to express her interest.

“I said I’d be very interested. I would have played rounders in primary school and I loved it.”

“The Healthy club has been great in our GAA club,” she continues. “It has started up these great little initiatives; trying to get people whose kids are involved in the club to get more involved themselves.”

Doing some relief work on top of being a stay-at-home mum, Edel finds it a great way to get to know other mothers around the area and for getting out of her comfort zone.

“When you’re a stay-at-home mum, your confidence wouldn’t be near as good as what it was when you were a lot younger. It really helps to get to know people in your area,” she says.

Having always been sporty in her teens, Edel admits she “fell off a bit” in her 20s, but then went back and played rugby in her 30s.

As rugby is a contact sport, she decided to step away from it when she had her third son as she was worried of injuries. Rounders has been great as she is able to bring her kids along to whatever training she is going to.

Sarah Kavanagh and Selena

Gardiner of Castletown Liam Mellow GAA club in Wexford. \ Philip Doyle

“They always have their own little friends down there as they have gotten to know the other mums’ kids,” she says.

When it comes to women getting active and involved in a local team, Edel says: “I think it’s that whole thing of getting out of your comfort zone and getting into something completely different. It’s very important when you have kids as sometimes, as mothers, we get so caught up in our children’s lives we tend to forget about our own.”

Edel encourages anyone to, “Give it a go, bite the bullet. Just give it one go.”

What is rounders?

GAA rounders is one of the four official GAA sports included in the original GAA charter back in 1884 along with gaelic football, hurling and handball. Rounders is a bat and ball game which is not dissimilar to baseball.

Sarah Kavanagh

Being a member of the club and with her family having played senior football, Sarah decided to get involved in the rounders team from the get-go.

“There is a great underage LGFA [Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association] now, but years ago there wasn’t. I think for our age group, we all played rounders in primary and secondary school. When they started it back up, I always loved it so I immediately went back to play,” she says.

A lot of the team members would normally have brought their children to GAA matches. Now, going to matches themselves, they are the ones feeling the pre-game nerves. For a lot of them, their children are now cheering them on from the sidelines, so the tables have truly turned.

“It’s been beneficial bringing the kids with you. Mine have taken a new lease of life and have been happy to take up other sports as they see you starting something different,” explains Sarah.

Talking about the importance of women getting active in their local area Sarah tells Irish Country Living: “Obviously there is a health benefit, but it is so good for the mind – just having that downtime, away from stresses or worries that would normally occupy you.

“Getting that social circle, I think just as much for stay-at-home mums who don’t get out, you’re getting that time to yourself.

“For our working mams as well, they get to come down and have fun. You just have that hour and a half off.” CL

Selena Gardiner

Coming all the way from Chicago, Selena now lives in Coolgreany. Being a member of the rounders team has been a great way for her to fit into the local community and make friends in the area.

“I do enjoy sports and I loved playing softball and baseball growing up, so rounders was obviously the next best thing. I was definitely going to try it and it has been absolutely amazing ever since,” she says.

“It’s so great to see how well everyone has improved. We have a really good team this year. Your body wants to be active; it wants to get up and move and do something. Being stagnant in work or sitting all day and not being so physical can definitely take a toll on your body. Even if it is getting out walking, being active makes such a difference.”

For anyone considering getting involved in a sport or team in your local area, Selena advises not to “knock it until you try it.”

“We always have a fear of starting something new and getting out of our comfort zone, but once you do it you’ll think: ‘I should have done this sooner.’”

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