Gaelic athletics are well-established in the Philadelphia area and, at least among the fans who follow the local hurling and Gaelic football teams, everyone knows who plays these freewheeling, uniquely Irish games.
Brendan Gallagher of the Glenside Gaelic Club thought he knew all the teams.
Turned out he didn’t. The Hawks of St. Joe’s fields a Gaelic football team, and you’ll get to see them in action in a game against a team from Boston College Saturday at 3 p.m. at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Montgomery County.
The team at St. Joe’s, Gallagher said, had already been planning a small exhibition game, “but it was going to be a much smaller event.”
The creative geniuses at the nascent Glenside club had a better idea.
“We saw it as an event of much larger significance,” Gallagher explained. “They saw it as a huge step for their club. I saw it as something bigger. I saw it as a huge step for Gaelic sports in the region.
“Ciaran Porter is the local GAA development officer and a paid employee of the GAA, and his job is to develop Gaelic sports in this region. He was the main force between us getting this event up and running. He has been holding development meetings, and asking people to come from different clubs. It was at one of those meetings at St. Joe’s that I met these young guys. I understood the significance.”
Glenside saw the game as an opportunity to bring out all the GAA fans—plus folks who have never witnessed a Gaelic athletic game of any kind. So the Glenside club is sponsoring the event, and it will now be a much bigger deal.
“At halftime, we’ll have a seven-a-side tiny tots game,” Gallagher said. “Were hoping to line up kids from the Delco Gaels to play against our kids. If not, we will have an intramural game. We see that as a marketing tool for ourselves.”
Afterward, from 6 to 8 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on nearby Limekiln Pike, the Glenside club will serve food and drink. Everyone is invited. It’s five bucks to get in. For newbies and their parents, the Glenside club will explain the basics of the game—and take the opportunity to recruit, of course.
In the meantime, Gallagher is gratified to learn of the Hawks club, and sees it as a positive sign for the growth and development of GAA sports here in Philly, and throughout the United States.
“This is their third year,” Gallagher said. “Ultimately, just like lacrosse and rugby, we’d like the games played at local universities, so students could be enticed to play into their 20s.”