The inspiring story of an Antrim GAA community rallying together to protect its... minion mascot 4 years ago

The inspiring story of an Antrim GAA community rallying together to protect its... minion mascot

All for one and one for all.

In this case, the one is just a mascot. But that mascot means as much to the Cargin GAA community as any of the rest of them do.

A club is a sacred thing.

Only a few hundred people in this world probably even know what they're up to, their results, their development. Less would even care about those things if they do know in the first place. But a GAA club becomes an empire to its residents. And that empire becomes their whole life.

So when something as simple as a mascot getting burnt down takes place on the week of a double final for the senior footballers and camogie team, it can bring people together. It can make them stronger.

Antrim outfit, Cargin, were partying at the weekend when their camógs stormed to Ulster glory in emphatic fashion and their men's footballers won their first championship since 2006. They celebrated in fine style, both teams arriving back in to town on the back of a tractor.

On that tractor, there was a slogan: 'Out of the ashes rose the Cargin champions.'

And there's a beautiful story behind that slogan. A defiant one.

A minion is built with hay to wish both the footballers and camógs well.

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The minion is mysteriously burnt down on Thursday evening before the finals.

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The community rallies.

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The minion is rebuilt with concrete blocks.

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The camógs win Ulster, the footballers win Antrim...

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"There was a good buzz around the club. Everybody wanted to help," SportsJOE spoke with a group of the community. "Especially after the burning, people wanted to do something and be practical and the whole village rallied behind.

"It turned out to be a bit of fun then. Children were up getting photos, the teams got photos there. The school. There were cake sales, people were selling minion cakes and then this thing became a bit of an icon and it became known as the Cargin Minion!"

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"It was just good craic and it was all light-hearted. When the first one burned down, there was even an obituary for it on Facebook. It was hilarious.

"But then so many people were talking and texting to say we needed to do another one after the first one went down - we knew it wouldn't last anyway, it was made of straw. It sort of became the club mascot then and it brought us all together a bit more. So we rebuilt it with concrete."

Almost a parable for the club itself. Rebuilding. Rallying. Refusing to bow their heads. Remarkable.