London’s home 2016 Allianz League games will take place at Hazelwood
GAA President Aogan O’Fearghail thinks it is only ‘right and fitting’ that the association is committing close to £2million sterling for the redevelopment of Ruislip.
Last Thursday’s ‘Ground Breaking Ceremony’ attracted a healthy crowd at the Emerald GAA Grounds where O’Fearghail also highlighted the central role of the Irish government in the project. “I want to acknowledge as President of the GAA the Irish government’s role,” O’Fearghail said.
“We work together through the emigrant supporte programme. The GAA work with the Irish government wherever we find there is an Irish community in the world.
“We invest together. We co-fund and in this particular project the Irish government have committed somewhere around £700,000, we are committing close to £2 million sterling. That is a huge investment from our island, but it is only right that it should happen. You are part of us, the GAA is what we are all part of. It is right and fitting that we are launching what will be a fantastic development. You’re all part of the GAA family. This is our practical way of demonstrating that you do matter. You do count; it is important.
“There is a sense of ambition. You see that this development is going to cost in the region of four or five million pounds sterling. You know there is ambition; there is a willingness to do well.
O’Fearghail stressed the relevance of the GAA in the ‘Irish emigrant experience’. “This is a special and historic occasion. There are many links to London that are crucial and important. We are all part of the GAA family. People talk about the Irish emigrant experience, but wherever you find people you’ll find Irish people. You will find Gaelic Games at the heart of it. So it is important we recognise that as our family is a worldwide family. It is important that we look after it and care for it in whatever way we can.
“In terms of activity London has an incredible level of activity. There are 33 clubs affiliated to the London County Board. That is a huge level of activity. Most of those clubs have one and many of them two teams so you’ve over 50 teams at adult level. Over half of the clubs have a juvenile programme so they are playing games at five, six, seven, eight years right the way through.
“Our games are not just for the Irish. They are for everybody. The Irish emigrants who wish to play our games are at the heart of what we do. They are for people of maybe second, third, or fourth generation Irish, but they are also for people with no connection to Ireland good, bad or indifferent. That is increasingly happening worldwide and that is something we welcome. I want our games to be for everyone.”
It has also been confirmed that London’s home Allianz Football and Hurling League games in 2016 will take place at London Irish’s training grounds at Hazelwood. “I’d like to mention that when the pitch closes here for a year activity will continue,” O’Fearghail said. “I want to thank the other clubs in London, who will see an increased usage in their facilities. I would like to thank London Irish rugby club, who are providing facilities. All of London’s Allianz League games will be played there. It is important to acknowledge that. There is a close bond of comradeship and friendship between London Irish Rugby and the GAA. That is important.
“Liam O’Neill was the President bringing this project to the stage it is now at. I will certainly be glad to keep a watchful eye if I can on making sure that the development happens and that things continue. I want to encourage you on the road that you are on.
“I want to thank the many people who have been flying the flag for Gaelic Games in London in more difficult times than we find ourselves in now. The many who came over here when people came in the 1940s, 50, and 60s in very difficult times. Relationships weren’t good at that time between Ireland and Briatin. Yet, they continued to keep Gaelic Games alive; I want to acknowledge your work and what you’ve done. Without your work this wouldn’t be continuing.”