Club of the week, St Benedict's Leeds
WHEN we think of gaelic games in the UK, we think of London, Liverpool and Manchester – but St Benedict’s of Leeds are a perfect example of why the Yorkshire scene should not be ignored.
It’s an area long associated with the games – indeed local legend has it that a friendly hurling game in the 1940s was broken up by the police after reports of Irish men attacking each other with sticks in a local park.
But those hastily-arranged kickabouts in Potternewton Park or at Chapel Allerton soon led to the establishment of the Yorkshire County Board in 1948, and, as a result, four teams now compete in the city with St Benedict’s leading the charge.
The Harps’ submission into the local sporting culture has been an easy one. The Beeston borough they reside in is surrounded by different codes with the South Leeds Golf Club, New Farnley Cricket Club and, most notably, Leeds United’s Elland Road all within a couple of miles of their Queensthorpe Close base. It’s an area mad about sport, and the large Irish community have certainly bought into it.
Their close ties to the Yorkshire Emerald’s Hurling Club and Leeds Ladies has also eased the burden. The trio have worked well together.
The club have a strong Ulster connection with players from Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Fermanagh and Tyrone lining out in the red and green.
They are currently the only Leeds club in division one of the Pennine League, pitting their wits against the likes of Liverpool’s John Mitchell’s, who lost the 2009 All-Ireland Club Junior Championship final by a point to Kerry’s Skellig Rangers at Croke Park.
“We have a lot of students over here, it’s a really popular spot for Irish students,” said club PRO Sean McMahon.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday July 26. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here