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Irish Guards are first British Army regiment to join GAA ranks

By Ed Carty

Published 16/09/2015

Prince William, with wife Kate, in Irish Guards uniform for the Trooping The Colour ceremony
Prince William, with wife Kate, in Irish Guards uniform for the Trooping The Colour ceremony

The Irish Guards have been promised a strong, physical contest after becoming the first British Army regiment allowed to compete in Gaelic games.

The Micks, as they are known, will take to the field next year in the junior championships in London after the new club was narrowly cleared to join the GAA.

Fifteen players have already put their names down to play for team Garda Eireannach, including former minor and under 21 players and soldiers from Fiji and South Africa.

Part of the Irish Guards' application to join the GAA's amateur sporting ranks referenced how the Fijians wanted to play a "strong, physical game that would suit them".

Chairman of the London County Board Noel O'Sullivan said: "And that's what they'll get."

The regiment was formed on April 1, 1900 by Queen Victoria in recognition of courageous acts carried out by Irish soldiers in the Second Boer War.

The regiment now draws most recruits from Northern Ireland but also takes in soldiers from the Irish Republic and many communities across Britain with strong Irish connections.

The regiment, whose Colonel-in-Chief is the Duke of Cambridge, applied to join the association several months ago.

Noteable veterans include World War Two tank commander Sir John Gorman, Irish tenor Josef Locke and John Kipling, the only son of author Rudyard Kipling.

A vote on the application ended tied on Monday with the chair using his casting ballot to accept the new club.

The ban on members of the British armed forces and police from joining the GAA and playing Gaelic sports was lifted 14 years ago when the controversial Rule 21 was dropped.

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