History was made in London on Saturday when Tir Conaill Gaels GAA team played a British Army “Irish Guards” team.
The army Naomh Padraig, made up of players from the Irish Guards regiment, played the Tir Chonaill Gaels junior footballers in the McArdle Cup in the English capital.
The Naomh Padraig side was made up of Irish-born soldiers serving in the army as well as a number of British-born players. In total there was up to ten different counties represented by the side.
The team were sanctioned to play after a narrow vote ruling in favour of the team’s formation last year.
Among those watching on the sidelines in London was veteran Tir Conaill Gaels members and photographer, Brendan Vaughan.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 at the weekend, the Carrigart man, who has been a long term resident in London, said that the players of the Irish Guards were in the UK just like many other irish people in that they were there to work.
He said the players for Naomh Padraig were made up from players hailing from Donegal, Fermanagh, Clare, Dublin, Galway and Waterford, among others.
“They are lads who didn’t get into the Irish Army so they joined the British Army and that’s the situation. They are just like ourselves, coming over to do a job from Ireland. They are immigrants,” he stated.
The Naomh Padraig side were managed by Waterford man known as Tom, who said the Irish Guards team were very grateful to Tir Conaill Gaels for the game and it took a big effort to be afforded the chance to play Gaelic games.
Speaking to the opposition after the game he stated: “I can’t express how much this means to us. We worked really hard to get to where we are. Thanks very much boys and I hope we meet you in the championship and beat you”.