Exiled Gaels and sporting rebels of Ireland - part III


In this the final of our three part look at the clash of the ash and salmon like leaps for midfield aerial supremacy across the world of Gaelic games, we recall some famous and infamous Gaelic sporting events from days of yore, where in some remote or fabled corner there remains fields and memories which remain forever Irish.

 Ireland v Scotland, 1897- at Celtic FC soccer grounds, Parkhead, the first Hurling Shinty International Match

Michael Cusack himself presented the Celtic Times Challenge Cup (in whose honor this parish is named) in 1897 to mark the first international hurling/shinty match between Ireland and Scotland at the soccer grounds of Celtic FC in Parkhead, and indeed officiated thereafter at a return match played at Jones’ Road in Dublin that same year.

It marked the culmination of close ties and communication between the Scottish Caledonian Society and Irish cultural and sporting revivalists since the early moves to form the GAA.

John Murdoch, the renowned Scottish land league leader and founder/editor of The Highlander newspaper had, along with fellow Scot and entrepreneur, Morrison Millar, (who helped Cusack establish the Celtic Times newspaper) cultivated sporting links with Irish sports enthusiasts. The founding father of Gaelic games, strongly influenced by the Irish independence leader P.W. Nally (later to suffer horrific conditions while incarcerated in the UK and in whose honour the Nally Stand at Croke Park is named) had an internationalised vision for Gaelic games as had the land leaguer and labour leader Michael Davitt who shared his ideas about Tailteann games with Cusack and the world champion athlete and the first president of the GAA, Maurice Davin.

The old Madison Square Gardens
 The Gardens, 1898

A brilliant piece by Classics teacher and Setanta commentator, Kevin Mallon on the first flood-lit GAA match was published a while back in that unlikely parish of record, the Irish Times.

The exiled Gaelic footballers, who lit up Madison Square Gardens, NYC received glowing tributes even from the mainstream US press. Indeed at that time in the US, Irish football or 'Gaelic', which is the euphemism most use for it today, was more popular than the association game or 'soccer', and considered by many sports reporters as on a par with their beloved college game or American football.

Further research shows later floodlit tournaments were also held to packed houses here such as in 1902.
Battle of Stamford Bridge, Part II

The UK’s first affiliated GAA club was Wallsend, near Newcastle, which was formed in March 1885.

Gaelic games had always been popular with the Tyneside Irish, and it was appropriate that it was to their immigrant community which fell the honour of forming the first branch of the GAA across the Irish Sea. The international ambition of the fledgling GAA was shown when a football match was staged between London Irish and Scotland at Stamford Bridge in 1896.

London wins the 1901 All-Ireland Hurling Title

London Emmets put away the reigning All-Ireland Home Final winners Cork to win a historic title. Cork were to exact revenge against the Londoners the following year. The 1902/03 re imposition of the GAA bans were to cause immense problems for the GAA abroad.

No silverware but at least we have Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy

Although London GAA was never again to scale the heights of 1901 they could claim to have an input into the blue ribbon competitions of the GAA each year, as both the All-Ireland football and hurling trophies were named after former London Irish GAA officials.

Collins and the Killkenny team
And they taught the big fellow too...