Around the World in 80 Clubs – Celtic Cowboys, Texas, USA (#47)
“His real claim to fame was recording an incredible nine sick days in December 2015, none of them consecutive.”
The man who that claim belongs to is none other than Kevin Mateer, corner back with Celtic Cowboys GAA, a man who, according to his clubmate Rob Jaskula, could have forged an inter-county career were it not for his love of burgers.
Kevin and Rob are just two of the 100 or so members of Celtic Cowboys GAA in Austin, Texas, one of a handful of GAA clubs in the second biggest state in the United States.
The club has been on the go since 2004 but some of their most memorable days have come in recent years.
Probably the most memorable year was in 2015, when they were paid a visit by the hurling All-Stars and won a cup at the NACB (North American County Board) for good measure.
Rob was happy to dish the dirt on some of his teammates and give an insight into the history of the club to date, including the story of the day they played in 33 degree heat and their captain required two bags of IV drip immediately after the final whistle.
Focus on Celtic Cowboys GAA
Club: Celtic Cowboys
Year established: 2004
Number of members: Approximately 100 (men and women)
Biggest rivals: Dallas Fionn MacCumhaill
Biggest representation from a club/county in Ireland: Limerick has the biggest representation, but we have heavy influence from all over Munster – especially Cork – in our club. Some of our best-represented clubs over the years are our good friends from Cork, Charleville and Valley Rovers.
Most famous ever member: Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons spent a summer with us before our league took its structure.
In the Texas Championship era, it’s probably former Cork hurler, Adrian ‘Turkey’ Mannix, as he’s the only one of us with a Wikipedia page, even though there’s a strong suspicion that he updates it himself.
Most memorable moment in the club’s history: Winning a cup at the NACB finals in 2015; we made final appearances that day in two grades of football and in hurling.
It was a great day for our club, even though then captain Ronan Lehane – who now togs out for the already-featured Houston Gaels – had to give his victory speech with his cousin, Martin Ryan, standing on the other side for San Diego Setanta.
Most eye-catching scoreline in the club’s history: Austin 4-16 – Dallas 2-19 in the 2014 Texas final.
It wasn’t our biggest win ever – it took extra-time to get the job done – but the day is most notable for the 33 degree heat it was played in, with no cloud cover whatsoever.
It was an absolutely brutal day and our captain on the day, Colm O’Flynn, had to take two bags of IV drip immediately after the final whistle. Lads were keeling over from exhaustion on both sides but everyone still made it to the session afterwards.
Clip via Jerome Quinn
Player who makes the longest commute to training: Our goalkeeper of Sri Lankan descent, Ashok Perera. Never misses a training session despite living out in the suburbs and is probably the tannest man in Texas.
Most dedicated club person: Our founder, Pat Doab from Croagh in Limerick, has not just been the driving force of our club for over a decade, he’s been a massive influence in the non-traditional cities here in Texas and the American Southwest.
Our Texas league, and probably more than a few clubs, would not exist without him; he’s a true credit to the GAA and nearly singlehandedly brought Austin the hurling All-Stars in 2015.
Player who could have made it big if love/career/drink didn’t get in the way: Corner back Kevin Mateer, it was only his love for burgers that held him back.
On his day, he truly had inter-county calibre skills, but his real claim to fame was recording an incredible nine sick days in December 2015, none of them consecutive.
Biggest character: Without a doubt it’s the only man to bring a hair dryer and flat iron to every away day, Donal Roughneen.
Often compared to Johnny Bravo, he’s a big, two-footed full forward who you can always hear roaring in his English accent from a mile away. No umpire is safe from his wrath and he’d be the first one with bells on at the weekend, chancing the “gorgeous birds” of Austin with his typical route one approach.
Loudest in the dressing room: Our former manager Colum Kelly has come out of retirement for 2017 and can be heard all over the grounds of the Southwest with his motivational and red-faced team talks.
Kerry man Anthony O’Sullivan has joined the women’s coaching staff for 2017 and has already gotten in a year’s worth of roaring at the referees.
Number of romances that started in the GAA club (feel free to name names): None so far! Our women have good enough taste to stay away from us. There’s been a relationship or two with lads from the other Texas clubs, though.
Duck to water award – Best new player who had never played GAA before: Aidan Griffin.
We found him playing adult kickball and invited him to give Gaelic football a shot at the start of 2015. This year, he’s earned his first start with our senior side and scored a goal on his debut.
I’ll give myself a special mention as well, I’ve gone from beginner to Bainisteoir of county finalists in four years despite being woefully unqualified... and replaced for 2017! We ran the best truck and trailer drill in North America under my watch, though.
Most annoying person in the club WhatsApp group: Clare man Dermot Neylon. It seems he only loves hurling, silage, and women… in that order.
His “three Ps of preparation” for distance running have become legendary.
Best story involving a club member that’s fit for print: The only one that’s fit for print is the story of Paul McEvoy, who was one of the two lads that blagged his way into the Super Bowl a couple of years back.
The boys just strolled right on in and eventually made their way into $25,000 seats. JOE even covered it, it was lovely hurling.