Currently, the Connemara Gaels boasts three teams, senior, Junior A and Junior B. They have 90 members and 45 home base players. The club was founded back in 1961, in Doggin’s pub on the Columbia road in south Boston.
The first chairman was Collie Conneelly, Pat Lydon from Carna in Galway was the first manager and Collie Folan from Carraroe in Meath was their captain.
Their most recent success was the 2013 title, but they won the senior championship back in 1997 when one of their most famous former members Sean Og de Paor helped them to capture glory.
The backbone of their members come from Galway, and Connemara of course. Their most successful year was in 1973 when they won the Boston and the North American Senior championship.
The 2013 success was an important one for Chris Lafferty. During that campaign they recorded one of their best-ever victories, a 7- 11 to 1-8 defeat of Galway Boston GFC. Lafferty regards that season as the proudest time at the club.
“Definitely has to be winning the senior championship in 2013. It meant so much to everyone in the club and it was great to have eight home base players in the starting 13.” They are keen to have as many home-based players as they can, but they are just like any other club in American in that they rely heavily upon the travelling Gael to keep their teams going.
They have a mix of players who are living and working in America, and they also have a good contingent who will join for a season. As Lafferty explained: “The door is always open for members to join the Gaels. We don’t care where you’re from or what your ability is, all you have to do is contact a club member and we will sign you up!
“It can be a little more difficult compared to back home in Ireland because you are competing with various other clubs for the same signatures.” Lafferty has been a club member since 2009, and during that time he was vice chairman from 2015 to 2016. So he’s in a good position to gauge where they are at the moment.
“The club is in good shape. There is always room for improvement though and that’s something we always look to do. Last year we added a third team so that was a big achievement. We won the O’Brien cup which is a pre season cup to get all the teams ready for the championship.
We lost the senior semi-final and we lost the junior A and junior B finals, but it was a good achievement for all 3 teams to be contesting in the latter stages of championship! Our aim this year is to win all three Championships, we last won the senior championship in 2013.”
One of the major challenges for clubs that are outside of Ireland is the search for the correct facilities. While in Ireland, every club in the country has at least one pitch, the same cannot be said in farther flung lands. The famous ‘another Priontaigh pitch’ sign has not been unfurled at venues across the mighty United States.
As a result clubs like Connemara Gaels have had to adapt. “Facilities would be the hardest part here because the GAA is not a big sport here, we train on soccer, American football and baseball pitches but where the games are played I would say they are the best facilities in America!”
One of the ways that the club seek to draw attention to their club is to highlight the action that takes place at those venues. They have a very keen web and social media presence which they use to promote the games. Lafferty explained: “I would say our social media activity. We try to do as much as we can.
We even video our senior games and even stream games live. We have over 7000 followers on our Facebook page. We are on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat too!” And if none of those Social Media streams are available, just make your way to JJ’s and you’ll find someone who’ll sign you up.
Notable players that have played for the club
Sean Óg De Paor and Declan Meehan both won a Boston Senior Championship with the club in 1997 and impressively went on to win the All-Ireland with Galway in 1998. In most recent years they have had a lot of county players from all over Ireland. Tommy Walsh from Renvyle in Galway won an All-Ireland minor championship with Galway in 2007, they beat Derry in the final. He moved to America in 2011 and played with the Gaels, helping them to reach the Championship final.
Any potential stars?
They have a good set up with bringing the young American lads through. Bryan Joyce was playing in the senior team in 2012 but a few bad injures set him back a lit- tle but he is young enough to turn it around!
Who are your rivals?
Aidan McAnespie’s! They have met in five Boston Senior Championship finals since 1997, most recently in 2013. They are up 3-2 at the moment so it’s a rivalry that is sure to continue.
Explain your location
They are based in Dorchester in Boston. It’s a big Irish community, Their games are played in Canton, Massachusetts. They do damage in JJ’s Irish pub and grill in Dorchester who are one of the club’s sponsors.
Who are the big characters in your club?
There a lot of big characters in the club. There’s always plenty of stories to be told. Peter Lee for his dancing on JJ’s stools, Damien Doolan and his story-telling in the dressing room would have to be mentioned. Noel Andrew Graham from Cappincur of Galway is one of their most reliable players, though he has been known to skip training with the excuse that he just ‘can’t be arsed’. Stephen King from Roundstone in Galway has been a member since 1987, and has been chairperson on a number of occasions.
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