Showing your county colours takes on a new meaning

GAA moms and dads nationwide owe a massive debt of gratitude to the ingenuity of illustrator Jen Murphy.

Showing your county colours takes on a new meaning

GAA moms and dads nationwide owe a massive debt of gratitude to the ingenuity of illustrator Jen Murphy.

With parents slowly running out of ideas to keep their youngsters occupied, Murphy had a light bulb moment last week which has since proved a saving grace in many GAA households.

The graphic designer and illustrator has caricatured several GAA players in recent years, and decided to put these sketches to good use by creating a free 15-page downloadable colouring book featuring an array of footballers — both male and female — from her native Mayo.

All the well-known faces are there, including Aidan O’Shea, Sarah Rowe, Lee Keegan, and All-Star Rachel Kearns.

Even retiree Andy Moran gets a look in.

Within 10 minutes of uploading the colouring book, Murphy was contacted by the Mayo County Board to know if they could use it as part of a competition to win a signed Mayo jersey.

The requests didn’t stop there as others got in touch to ask if Murphy could produce something similar for their native counties.

It wasn’t just the Mayo kids who needed distracting.

Her stockpile of Cork sketches from the county’s many successful camogie and ladies football campaigns meant a Cork edition soon arrived on stream.

The 11-page book contains drawings of Orla Finn, Doireann O’Sullivan, Gemma O’Connor, Rena Buckley, and Briege Corkery.

Thereafter, and in a bid to satisfy the masses, a third colouring book was delivered into homes across the country.

This 18-page creation features ladies footballers from 12 counties, from Noelle Healy in Dublin to Galway’s Tracey Leonard, and from Geraldine McLaughlin in Donegal to Tipperary’s Aishling Moloney.

Pictures of her drawings have flooded Murphy’s Twitter and Instagram feed in recent days as parents uploaded their children’s handy work.

Indeed, a couple of moms and dads have even begun to channel their inner Van Gogh.

“It is getting a good reaction and certainly seems to be keeping children occupied,” says Murphy.

“I thought it would be a nice idea to turn some of my illustrations into colouring books, but it also had to be something parents could download and print off from the comfort of their own homes.

"They are a break from iPads and the television screen. It is lovely to see all the pictures of children colouring away at the kitchen table.

"Colouring keeps you active, which is what sport is about, so, in that sense, I’d like to think these books are good for one’s mental health.”

Charlotte and Madeline Payne from Mayo colouring some of their favourite Mayo stars. These two are always at matches with their parents.
Charlotte and Madeline Payne from Mayo colouring some of their favourite Mayo stars. These two are always at matches with their parents.

Her creative masterstroke has also kept momentum behind the #CantSeeCantBe movement at a time when sport has ground to a halt.

“I would be a big sports fan, that is why I do a lot of these sketches.

"I like to put a face to a lot of the players, especially the female players, so young girls can become more familiar with them.

“These colouring books are another way, hopefully, of increasing visibility and familiarity among young kids with the ladies footballers in this country.”

And parents, keep an eye out for she’s not finished just yet.

“I am contemplating doing something for the Irish ladies soccer team. Irish footballer Louise Quinn was onto me, she saw the colouring books and said they were really cool.

"If I do, it’ll open up a whole can of worms. I’ll have every county and code messaging me, but it is good to see a demand out there for our female sports stars.”

You can find Ms Murphy's colouring books to download here, here, and here

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