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GAA gospel spreads to London

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GAA gospel spreads to London


Daniel Carey

A CURRY teacher who has introduced Gaelic football to his London school is bringing 25 students to the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan tomorrow (Wednesday).
Brendan Doherty’s Southall Shamrocks team has been hitting the headlines here after news of their tour of Ireland appeared in the London-based Irish Post. Broadsheet.ie included a picture of ‘the GAA team with no Irish players’, while 2fm have also shown an interest in the story. Brendan’s dad Tom was in touch with The Mayo News to tell us that a group of 15- and 16-year-olds – most of whom are of African or Asian origin – will be spending part of their half-term break brushing up on their GAA skills.
The team was established after the Sligo geography teacher ran Gaelic football sessions last summer as part of National Sports Week at Featherstone High School in West London, where almost 99 per cent of its 1,500 pupils are from an ethnic minority. He got the backing of principal Gerry Wadwa (London-born son of an Indian man and a Foxford woman) for the initiative.
Yesterday (Monday) they flew to Ireland, toured Croke Park and did a walking tour of Dublin. Today (Tuesday) they  play their debut game in Pearse Stadium, Salthill before getting a training session with coaches in Bekan tomorrow.
Southall is not an Irish stronghold and, according to Brendan, 40 per cent of the school pupils are Asian/Indian, 22 per cent are Somali and 17 per cent are Pakistani. The students had never heard of Gaelic football, but the interest has been ‘phenomenal’, according to Brendan. “It’s just taken off like a rocket,” he said.
Maybe Mayo will have some new fans for this year’s championship ...

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