Belfast Telegraph

London GAA's bright new look will help to bridge the gap

By Declan Bogue

Some feelgood stories are too good to ignore, especially one as heart-warming as London GAA.

Their win over Sligo in Ruislip last May was the first time they had won in the Connacht Championship since 1977.

Played under a typically baking London sky, the win was capped and sealed when their goalkeeper Philip Greene saved a penalty from Padraig McGoldrick.

That evening, there was a Skype link-up to The Sunday Game that manager Paul Coggins shared with a number of his squad.

You might have expected some players to have been a bit giddy, or pull a few faces for their mates back home, but there was a steeliness to the way the likes of Lorcan Mulvey stared at the camera that showed they weren't done yet.

So it proved when they beat Leitrim in the semi-final, gaining entry to their first ever Connacht final.

Defeat in that came with the consolation of knowing it was to the All-Ireland runners-up over the last two years in Mayo, and the reward of a fourth-round qualifier in Croke Park.

They lost to Cavan, but delivered a credible performance.

It was always in the pipeline, senior GAA and Irish government figures tell us, but the granting of €5million to redevelop the London GAA headquarters at the western suburb of Ruislip has come at a time of much optimism.

Construction work is due to start in September and they expect to unveil the new 3,900 stadium in time for the 2015 Connacht Championship.

There will be a sparkling new stand where the supporters presently gather and the other side will also be terraced, therefore closing the ground in. The Department of Foreign Affairs are making good on their promise of €600,000, €1.4million will come from the GAA at central level and the rest will be raised by London GAA and its clubs.

Already, there are many Irish teachers in London schools giving something to kids in inner-city areas that cannot be bought; a sense of self-esteem.

Anyone who caught the documentary 'Féile Dreams' of the London team taking part in the Féile in Derry, couldn't but have been moved by the way all races and tribes came together to represent the tough constituency of south London.

They left London as kids, hardened by their circumstances. They left Derry bonded as soul brothers.

In spreading the GAA, we need to see more of what is happening in London.

Belfast Telegraph


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