Around the World in 80 Clubs: Dunedin Connolly’s, Edinburgh (#16)
Edinburgh has long been a popular outpost for Irish people leaving the country and the only GAA club in the city has been feeling the benefits for quite some time.
Dunedin Connolly’s have been in existence for nearly 30 years now and are one of the biggest clubs on the British GAA circuit, having won multiple Scottish Championships and the All-Britain Championship in 2009, while their ladies have won the last two consecutive All-Britain Intermediate Championships.
When seeking to find out some information about the club, who better to ask than Jonathan Foley?
Jonathan is the club’s PRO, historian and ladies’ team manager and plays with the men’s team too.
They're fond of a bit of Westlife from time to time.
Focus on Dunedin Connolly’s
Name: Dunedin Connolly’s. Derived from the Gaelic translation of Edinburgh mixed with a nod to James Connolly, who was born in the city.
Year established: 1988, by Belfast native, Anthony Haughey, via a chance conversation with Father Eamon Sweeney at an Irish dancing show on Leith Walk back in the day.
Biggest rivals: Domestically and through history, Glasgow Gaels, but in much more recent times, both the men's and ladies' teams have locked horns a lot with John Mitchels of Liverpool.
Biggest representation from a single club/county in Ireland: Historically, Donegal, but currently Mayo leads the way - most counties in Ireland are represented though.
Most famous ever member: Frank Molloy (below) was a sub for Mayo during the Connacht Championship in 1997 whilst Caolfhionn Deeney won an All-Ireland with Wicklow ladies - and an All Star - in her time.
Most memorable moment in the club’s history: Winning the All-Britain title in 2009.
Most eye-catching scoreline in the club’s history: Back in 2013, the girls beat a team from Leeds 20-20 to no score.
Player who makes the longest commute to training: Sean Malee does great work trucking up and down from Inverness. Mark Conlon also makes a big effort getting in from Fife to Edinburgh very, very regularly.
Most dedicated club person: Has to be Alan Ward. He has been a devoted club player, selector, manager, chairman, treasurer and secretary for almost 15 years now. Has done great work too for Scottish GAA as a whole and not just for us at Connolly’s.
Player who could have made it big if love/career/drink didn’t get in the way? Dundalk-born, Rosanna Heeney already played in two All-Ireland finals for Louth before moving across and, ironically enough, she lined out at Croke Park last September for Scotland against her native county.
Biggest character: ‘Enthusiastic Dan’ Loftus is like the dog chasing a car wheel when in pursuit of the ball he wants it that much. He knows what to do with it when he's caught it though, in fairness.
Angie ‘Hatchetts’ Callaghan on the girls' team is renowned for her ability to throw out a controversial yet immensely witty one-liner at any given time.
Loudest in the dressing room: Manager Cormac O’Gara. When he talks, players don't!
Number of romances that started in the club: Plenty. Marriages, engagements, relationships and even the odd occasional ‘shift’ have blossomed between the two sets. Mostly in the romantic setting of Dropkick Murphy’s bar at 2am.
Duck to water award – Best new player who had never played GAA before: It has to be to Fiona-Jayne ‘Tilly’ Taylor. An English girl who learned the game through the Internet, she joined us and within two seasons had won six major titles with the team.
She has since become a coach to our under-age teams and holds a role with the Scottish GAA County Board. A fast learner if ever there was one.
Most annoying person in the club WhatsApp group: Daniel O’Brien, hands down! Daft jokes, photos of anything he's doing, selfies. You name it, ‘Big Dan’ has it covered.
Best story involving a club member that’s fit for print:
One: The club’s first ever set of jerseys were supplied to us in 1988 by a Del Trotter-like ‘wheeler-dealer.’ He'd supply 15 green tops on the condition that nobody asked any questions.
Two: The ladies’ team once crashed a wedding reception following a bus breakdown in Newcastle. Drinking and jiving away in their trackies; the actual guests loved them so much, they waved the team off with flowers and by throwing rice as they eventually left when the new bus arrived.
Three: The men’s team have a rather unhealthy obsession with the works of Westlife!