The night that the East Belfast club made their competitive debut in the Down leagues against St Michael’s, I fell into a text conversation with a prominent member of the Ulster Council of the GAA.
I had sent a tweet wishing them well, and he sent me a message expressing his thoughts on their formation.
“It is absolutely the 21st century in the north. They will no doubt hit bumps but to see that club thrive would be wonderful for the six counties and for the GAA,” he said.
And that first bump was as sinister as a security alert.
There is a chasm between the positivity radiating from those involved with forming the club, and the spineless craven attitudes it takes to pull something like this alert off.
The DUP’s Gavin Robinson didn’t hang back when he issued a clear condemnation, stating, “This would appear to be a clear attempt to intimidate those using the playing fields.”
Others in official Unionism struggle to maintain their bigotry when it comes to the GAA. Official remarks made in recent times gives those that are involved in this criminality a sense of legitimacy.
Instead of treating these views with utter contempt however, there’s always been a platform for them. Hatred and bigotry never goes out of fashion.
East Belfast is evolving into a gumbo of people from all traditions. The south of the city will always be imagined as the epicentre of artistic expression with Queen’s University, the nightlife and the Lyric Theatre.
But the East has an edge that way too and the numbers from all traditions signing up to play for East Belfast GAA club, reflected a gloriously liberal cross section of society.
Last Friday, Croke Park hosted the Muslim Celebration of Eid. Kurdish Iraqis are winning Lory Meagher Cups with Leitrim. A half-Fermanagh, half-Fijian hurler called Sean Óg hAilpín is a legend of the game.
The games are reflecting society. The political football and bogeyman suspicion stuff is transparent rallying of hardliners. For the sake of their own people, political Unionism needs to shut it down.