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Trailblazer: Dave McGreevy in action for East Belfast GAA against St Michael’s

Trailblazer: Dave McGreevy in action for East Belfast GAA against St Michael’s

Trailblazer: Dave McGreevy in action for East Belfast GAA against St Michael’s

It was almost half-a-century since East Belfast had a GAA club - but two men helped end the wait this year.

Richard Maguire and Dave McGreevy established the club in May with an inclusive ethos.

Its logo displays the Red Hand of Ulster (in black) and the yellow Sampson and Goliath cranes of Harland & Wolff, with its motto 'Together' in English, Irish and Ulster-Scots. Club president is Irish language activist Linda Ervine, sister-in-law of late PUP leader David Ervine.

Richard said: "It all started with a tweet on May 31 saying 'new Gaelic club starting in east Belfast', and within 24 hours we had swelling numbers, which was quite unexpected in East Belfast. Within a couple of weeks we had some training sessions and the numbers continued to swell.

"We eventually got our membership open a couple of months later and we had 400 players from all parts of East Belfast - lots of people who had never played the sport before.

"The enthusiasm around the club is amazing. The hospitality across Down has been phenomenal. Our camogie team's famous for getting cakes wherever they go. It was a new thing for people in the east, and Belfast, and we tried to make it as open as possible."

Richard said having fun is just as important as the sport.

He added: "With every decision we make we try and think what would other communities think about this, and not traditional communities, but the refugees coming into the area, people from different places. Our badge is reflective of East Belfast. The cranes are clearly the major symbol of East Belfast. There's waves, which reflect the maritime heritage of the area. Then we have the Ulster-Scots, English and Irish, because we appreciate that there is that blend.

"In the whole of the area, spreading out to Lisburn, there isn't a single Gaelic pitch, so we've been here, there and everywhere. We were at Henry Jones Playing Fields and then there was the bomb scare in July and that really affected people, but we didn't lose members over it.

"Hopefully we will get a permanent place soon. We have one of the biggest playing memberships in Co Down.

"We have four senior teams and next year we'll have upwards of 10 teams."

Belfast Telegraph


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