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30th Apr 2013

Gibraltar Gaels: The Irish lads bringing GAA to Gibraltar

At the very southern tip of Europe a group of Irish ex-pats have brought our beloved Gaelic football to the rocky shores of Gibraltar.


At the very southern tip of Europe a group of Irish ex-pats have brought our beloved Gaelic football to the rocky shores of Gibraltar.

The story began over 18 months ago, when a Cork man went searching The Rock (not that one, or that one) for his fellow country men to help form a Gaelic football club. A Wicklow man and Clare man surfaced and a few weeks later a meeting was arranged over a few pints, and the Gibraltar Gaels came to be.

The three enthusiastic Irish lads had dreams of conquering Spain and set about recruiting the local talent to join the club, which turned out to be a mixed bag with two Aussies, an Italian, a Spaniard, a Welshman, a few Brits, a few Paddies and a token Dub.

A pitch was booked and training got underway, the club house became a local bar called “Transylvania” run by a burley Romanian lady who keeps the lads well fed after training with plenty of fried fish, washed down by copious amounts of beer. It’s just like home… sort of.

After that the word got around, numbers swelled at training and club membership grew to a healthy 25 people. After a few months of falling around on the training pitch, the Gaels felt ready to test themselves against the competition.

A trip to Marbella was promptly organized to play the Costa Gaels, but defeat soon followed. With their egos a little bruised, training continued and another match was organized, this time against the heavyweights of Seville. A severe beating was handed out to the rookie Gibraltar team and they returned home with their tails firmly tucked between their legs.

A good dusting down and a serious look in the mirror took place, the Gaels got serious about being serious, a fitness coach was found and the real training began.

The Gaels kicked off the 2012/2013 season with an away win in Marbella, and although it was only a friendly it set the tone for their first ever season competing in the Andalucian league. They started the league with victory over Seville at home, drew away to Marbella, beat Seville in Seville, and then were beaten at home in their final league game against Marbella.

Seville had already beaten Marbella at home and the Gaels knew that if Seville could do the same again, then Gibraltar would be crowned champions with themselves runners-up, and so it came to be. Seville did the young fledgling club a huge favor and handed them their first league title. Gibraltar rocked for days to the sound of “Andalucian league champions 2013”.

It’s an amazing achievement for the young club in their first ever season. It’s been a great journey for everyone involved, some great friendships have blossomed, some quality people have been picked up along the way and the club has become an integral part of the local ex-pat community.

So if you ever find yourself down in the south of Spain, or even curious about the club, the lads would love to hear from you, so you can drop them a mail at [email protected], or head to the website.

Tá súil a fheiceann tú go luath