On Saturday, October 17, rain or shine, the Shannon Gaels Gaelic football club of Queens will host its first annual field day in Sunnyside Gardens Park (49th Street and 39th Avenue). The special guest will be New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
There will be under-8 and under-10 seven-a-side games and an under-12 seven-a-side cup game which will be the main event featuring the Shannon Gaels against the Long Island Gaels competing for the Cailean Sean Thomas O'Reilly Memorial Cup. Cailean was one of their original players in 2002 who sadly passed away in August 2003 at the tender age of 11 after a short illness.
Cailean's father, Michael, was one of the founders of the club and he and his family will be in attendance to present the cup to the winning team.
Throughout the day there will be traditional Irish entertainment with dancing, traditional music, displays of hurling and camogie, and an Irish shop selling the best of all things Irish. There will also be photographs and a slide show showing the fun times the club has enjoyed through the years.
Shannon Gaels was founded on May 5, 2002 in Sunnyside, and to date it is the only GAA Minor Board Gaelic football club in Queens.
The club started out with just over 20 players ranging in age from four to 10 years. Though small in number they managed to put together two teams, under-6 and under-10. It was tough going in those early days with no home field to practice or play games on.
However, they persevered and traveled to games in upstate New York, the Bronx, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Shannon Gaels has grown into a well-established club which now boasts 203 registered players, and they continue to grow rapidly. While many of their players are of Irish descent, they are inclusive and reflect the diversity of Queens .
They now have under-6, 8, 10 and 12 teams, and hope to have under-14 next year and under-18 in 2011.
Shannon Gaels still does not have a regulation size field for their home games and consequently, every weekend they travel to the other boroughs, states and Long Island to play their league and championship games. The dedication of their hardworking coaches, parents and the players’ love for their sport ensures they are never without a full team on these weekends.
They have Sunnyside Garden Park to thank for its generosity to the club for the past seven years as a venue for training, and more recently to Monsignor McClancy High School which has also hosted the team.