Our pitch gives us identity — Inishbofin GAA features in latest Guinness tv advertising campaign

Simon Murray lining the pitch on Inishbofin.

Simon Murray lining the pitch on Inishbofin.

As the 2017 GAA All-Ireland Senior Championships enter the final stages, GUINNESS has launched its latest TV advertising campaign , ‘Behind Every Great Town’ featuring Inishbofin native Simon Murray. The captivating 30-second film celebrates the every day GAA volunteers, who willingly give their time in communities across Ireland all year round.

The advertisement, which debuted on TV last week, features Simon Murray and three other real GAA volunteers from Castlegregory, Co. Kerry, Slaughtneil, Co. Derry and Ongar, Dublin 15. Together, they represent the thousands of people throughout the Island of Ireland who find enrichment, enjoyment and a sense of community by immersing themselves in their local GAA club.

Simon, and those before him on Inishbofin, have a dedication and conviction to succeed, having been affected by the people leaving their neighbouring island Inishark in 1960. Although Inishbofin does not have a club team that regularly plays in competition, their GAA pitch is a physical symbol of their identity.

Commenting on their GAA pitch, Simon said, “We used to kick ball down in a commonage area called Duach and it just wasn’t good enough. When you are soloing a ball and dodging rabbit holes, that’s when you need a pitch.

“We first thought about having our own pitch in the early nineties. It took five or six years to get a site, planning permission and fundraising and another two years to develop it. We just needed somewhere to have proper training, to play a few challenge matches every year and feel like a proper team.

“We have the asset now and we want to keep it at its best. If you have a handful of willing people to drive it on, the rest will follow. One of the core reasons our pitch was done was to build for the future. I remember the day the posts went up at each end and I was standing there saying to myself, ‘yeah, we now have our football pitch’.

Simon is also one of the founding members of the All-Islands Gaelic Football Tournament which takes place every September since its inception in 1998. It brings nine off-shore islands together to a different Island annually in what has become the social and cultural event of the year for Islanders, and this year, Inishbofin is hosting the weekend tournament.

Simon said; “Having the All-Islands Gaelic Football Tournament coming back to Bofin this September is a huge personal sense of achievement. One of the core reasons for it was to give a platform to connect with other Islanders and share ideas. Islanders have a commonality in that we don’t have a lot of things that they have on the mainland and, therefore, have to fight for everything ourselves. Things like having a pitch on an island makes you stronger as a community. I have no doubt the tournament will stay going for years to come because it’s a real symbol of identity and a way to show pride of place.”

Commenting on the ad, Guinness Brand Manager Chloé McEvoy said; “Our ad celebrates the people like Simon whose selfless efforts and dedication to their local clubs enhances the towns and communities they live in, as well as making the GAA the vibrant, progressive and inclusive organisation that it is today. Driven by a sense of pride and belonging, these volunteers truly are the life and soul of the GAA.”

The TV advert shows Simon travelling home on the Island ferry before we see an aerial view of him lining their GAA pitch and the beautiful backdrop of the island harbour. The TV advert also features life-long volunteer Kerry’s Maurice Spillane of Castlegregory, who we see driving through the countryside to his club grounds to mow the field with his ride-on mower, a job he has done on many occasions through the years.

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