Joe Kernan: St Gall’s journey is one that everyone in Ulster can rally behind
There are some 2,500 GAA clubs in Ireland. Some are small rural outfits while others are fashionable city clubs but all have their own particular tradition.
Now there is the real chance that St Gall’s, a unit with its headquarters deep in the bowels of west Belfast, could become the premier club in the country.
Their arrival in the St Patrick’s Day AIB All Ireland Club football final courtesy of that dramatic extra-time victory over Corofin in last Saturday’s semi-final has regurgitated the football fever that swept Antrim last year when Liam Bradley’s heroes swept to the Ulster final where they lost to Tyrone.
When the club semi-final was called off on the weekend before last, there were concerns that St Gall’s might just take their eye off the ball. Not a chance of it! If anything, Lenny Harbinson’s men were really on fire last Saturday, lasting the pace superbly and displaying the kind of teamwork and panache that augers well for their prospects in the final against Clare and Munster champions Kilmury/Ibrickane.
St Gall’s know what it is like to knock on the door to All Ireland success but be denied entry. They were in the club final a few years when a gale-force wind, grey skies and a gloomy atmosphere mirrored the depression that accrued from their defeat.
That was a lesson well learned. St Gall’s are now a better, more streetwise and infinitely more polished side. If they were wet behind the ears in some respects in their last All Ireland final appearance, they have since matured into a very accomplished outfit, a side that marries power and panache, style and steel.
I urge all Ulster followers to forget their local affiliations and throw their weight behind St Gall’s in their bid to do the province proud on the biggest club stage of all.