Well, our first year as a club is over and what a year it has been. They weren’t wrong when they said starting up a GAA club in England was going to be difficult. At times it has been really challenging but absolutely worth it.
The year started out with some tough winter training on the parks as we were yet to secure a home ground. There were plenty of muddy faces in those first few months of training that’s for sure. Winter training led us up to our very first game as a club for our men’s team and our very first win (what a feeling) against Manchester team, St Lawrence’s.
After finally organising our own home ground at Concord Park, we played a hard fought second game against St Brendan’s. Sadly after this game it was decided that Concord Park could no longer be our home ground. As a result it would mean that we’d play the remainder of our games away or at a neutral ground.
The following two games against Oisins and Brothers Pearse resulted in a narrow win and our first loss, respectively. The men’s last game in the Pennine League would be against York. A win against York would put us second in the league with a place in the final and a chance to get a promotion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. With a team riddled with injuries and no subs, we took an absolute hammering 6-13 to 0-6. The loss meant that we ended the season joint second with Brothers Pearse but behind them, as they had a better goal difference. Congrats to Brothers Pearse who went on to beat York in the final and to get a promotion.
Our next challenge would be a 7’s tournament hosted by York. The men’s team came away with a win and two very narrow defeats. The ladies team came away with their very first win which was a huge achievement as there were some strong teams playing that day.
The final challenge of the year for the men’s team was in the Yorkshire Shield. It began promisingly as York forfeited the quarter-final, instantly putting us in the semi-finals against Leeds team, JFK. The semi-final against JFK was a massive win for us, winning 2-15 to 2-10. This put us in the final with Brothers Pearse, now Pennine League winners. The final was a tough game, the wind played its part, knocking the ball about and not to mention our captain took a massive knock in the game causing one of his lungs to collapse! Like a hero he soldiered on. Despite our efforts, sadly the day was not ours, losing the game 2-12 to 1-6.
In February, members of our committee helped to make history by being elected to the first ever Yorkshire Ladies LGFA committee at a meeting led by the president of the LGFA in Britain. This committee planned the first LGFA Yorkshire League and Championship involving clubs from York, Leeds and Newcastle, playing alongside Sheffield. Our ladies team have gone from strength to strength with the ladies participating in league and championship matches, as well as joining forces with York to compete.
With us being a newly formed club, raising funds has been an essential part of running the club and keeping it going. We've held multiple fund raisers throughout the season and thanks to the amazing generosity of a lot people, we've managed to keep it going. As you'd expect, we've had some good social events as a club. Our end of season dinner dance was so good, we even got a mention in the Irish Post! We finished off the year with a 12 pubs of Christmas social which resulted in a few sore heads the next day.
Throughout the year we’ve said hello and welcome to some amazing talent and great people, building a strong team for both the men’s and ladies teams. We’ve also said goodbye to some of the best and we wish them well and hope they get to see us win some silverware. Thanks to the amazing hard work of the committee members and the incredible support from a lot people, we go into our second season in a much stronger position now having secured our own home ground (more details to follow). Here’s to 2019!