Around the World in 80 Clubs: Keltoi Vigo, Galicia, Spain (#59)
“We have the feeling that we are building something which is much more than a couple of teams; it’s a club.”
Like most of the world outside of Ireland, Galicia in Spain wouldn’t be recognised as a GAA stronghold.
Located in the north-west corner of the country on the Atlantic coast, the region has a strong association with maritime sports and although they’re not faring too well right now, La Liga football sides Deportivo La Coruña and Celta Vigo would be recognised throughout the world.
The derby between the two biggest cities in the region doesn’t only take place in football, however, with Gaelic Football teams from A Coruña and Vigo contesting their own Galician derby since the formation of Keltoi Vigo in 2014.
Since that time, 50 players have joined the club, which is represented by men’s and women’s teams. Impressively, most of the players are locals with a sprinkling of talent from Ireland, Colombia, the United States and elsewhere.
Judging by the enthusiasm of chairperson Declan Lyons and clubman Miguel Otero when we were in touch with them recently, they’re building something special in Vigo; they were happy to tell us all about the characters in the dressing room, the club anthem and explain why Keltoi Vigo are known as a good time team.
Focus on Keltoi Vigo
Club: Keltoi Vigo
Year established: 2014
Number of members: Around 50 players between the men's and women's teams, but the more, the merrier.
Biggest rivals: Even though we get on like a house on fire off the pitch, there are always a few sparks that fly when we face off with the teams from A Coruña city. Having said that, the Galician Gaelic tradition of the après match food and drinks means we are in this thing for the fun of it all.
Biggest representation from a club/county in Ireland:
Even though our chairperson is from Cavan and our head coach is from Clare, we are essentially a Galician club. We are always on the lookout for fresh talent but we don't bother looking at their passports; two of our new signings are from Colombia and the United States.
Most famous ever member:
A bit of a prickly question, as we are all Keltoi, but I suppose the fact that our former player Benny Carr's father won an All-Ireland in 1992 would make him famous by proxy.
Most memorable moment in the club’s history:
When we realised during pre-season training that we had almost doubled the number of players we had last year, there was a great buzz around the place. We have the feeling that we are building something which is much more than a couple of teams; it’s a club.
Most eye-catching scoreline in the club’s history:
After a first season without a win, our women's team finally broke their duck last month and got their first victory under their belt. They were 10 points down at half-time and when the referee blew up for full-time they didn't even know the score. They won by a single point!
Player who makes the longest commute to training:
Even though some of our players do a 50-kilometre commute to training, that prize goes to Dani Gonzalez, who lives in Barcelona and comes back as often as the low-cost airlines allow him.
Most dedicated club person:
Without a doubt, Mister Barbas, AKA Whiskers, is the character who keeps the clock ticking. He's the manager of the women's team, the caretaker, the secretary, and full back on the men's team when his shoulder isn't dislocated, which is all too often recently.
Player who could have made it big if love/career/drink didn’t get in the way:
If I answered that question I suppose I could write an encyclopaedia; suffice to say that we are a good time team.
I'd have to split that one between the deadly Davids. David Fernández is the guy you can always count on to chant, sing and support while off the pitch. David Castro, meanwhile, trains like a turtle, plays like a tiger and drinks like a fish.
Loudest in the dressing room:
Diego Fernandez, better known as Chou, is an absolute showman. Never shuts his mouth.
Number of romances that started in the GAA club (feel free to name names):
What do you refer to as romances? Within our club, there have been a few one-night stands, though some have been denied. There’s one ongoing relationship, but apparently, the men's full-back line seems to be in high demand.
Naming names could be bad for my health.
Duck to water award – Best new player who had never played GAA before:
Seeing as more than 90% of our players hadn't played Gaelic before playing with Keltoi I'd have to say several, as we have a few who are knocking hard on the door for the Galician County team and will hopefully get their call up really soon.
Most annoying person in the club WhatsApp group:
Our WhatsApp group is full of banter and camaraderie and we try to keep things as light as possible.
Best story involving a club member that’s fit for print:
One of our ex-players, Kike, decided to make up an official club song as a farewell to playing for us, which sums up our essence to a tee.
It’s a really powerful piece, but nobody has learned it yet!