Galwegians at the core of London’s challenge for All-Ireland club gloryFebruary 7, 2013 - 8:00am
They will be travelling by train, boat, car and plane when the first of two All-Ireland club finals involving teams with strong Galway connections takes place at Croke Park this weekend.
St Gabriel’s of London, a club set up by a committed group of Galway emigrants in 1961, will enjoy their moment in the limelight when they take on Clara of Kilkenny in the Intermediate hurling final on Sunday (3.45pm).
But, given that the English rugby team are taking on Ireland in the Six Nations at the Aviva Stadium at the same time, the panel which includes ten Galway-born players will have to fly to Belfast and then make their way by bus to the capital.
It promises to be an emotional reunion. They will be joined by dozens of family members from Galway, who cheered them on in the semi-final win over Killimordaly last month, as well as a host of former club members from the county who were involved with St Gabriel’s through the past 52 years.
Among those cheering on the London champions at Croke Park will be Karl Burke (Athenry), Padraic Callahan (Ahascragh), Mattie Burke (Athenry), Michael Corcoran (New Inn), Michael Kenny (Kiltormer) and Ambrose Gordon (Kiltormer), men who were at the very first meeting to set up the club back in 1961.
They became known as “the Galway team” in London throughout the past half century and many well-known hurlers from the county have enjoyed stints with the club, who train in Wembley, over the past half-century.
Former players such as Gerry Hanniffey (Oranmore-Maree), J.J. Shields (Abbeyknockmoy), Michael Connolly (Craughwell), Justin Campbell (Kiltormer), Sean Cooke, and Michael and Johnny Linnane (all Gort) were also present in Birr when they beat Kiltormer by 2-12 to 2-11 in Birr two weeks ago.
“It was great to see so many of the old boys, many of whom had moved back to Ireland, that day in Birr,” said Ambrose Gordon this week. “I think all the boys who turned up in Birr, where we had great support, will be in Croke Park on Sunday.
See full story in this week's Connacht Tribune.