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Club of the week – Connemara Gaels GFC Boston

CONNEMARA GAELS BOSTON1
THE  spiritual  home  of  Connemara Gaels GFC Boston is  JJ’s pub and Grill in Dorchester. While  they  play  their  matches  at Canton  in  Massacusetts,  JJ’s  is  the place where their greatest memories reside.

Memories of celebrating their 2013 championship title, or just the craic that   follows   any   of   their   Sunday games, whether that be the slagging heard from men like Kieran Cox from Beragh in Tyrone or the performances from Peter Lee of Clifden in Galway.

Every  club  needs  its  focal  point, and JJ’s is that very place.  American  clubs,  indeed  any  club outside of Ireland relies upon these venues  to  provide  a  touch  point  for the club, a meeting place for players and expats.

During our interview with Boston Gaels Chris Lafferty JJ’s comes up repeatedly, and you begin to realise that the importance of that establishment is more than just a place to get a beer after  a  game,  it  is  the  venue  that holds  the  club  together,  which  is  so crucially important.

For Connemara Boston Gaels, taking  care  of  their  members  is  a  high priority, as Chris Lafferty explained. “In  my  opinion  the  club  is  very good at looking after the players who live here and the lads who come out for the summer. We have one of the strongest  selection  of  home base players in Boston and that provides a great back bone to the club!”

CONNEMARA GAELS BOSTON2

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.

Celebrating success in 2013

Celebrating success in 2013

“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!

The squad from 2011

The squad from 2011

“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.”

The panel

The panel

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!”

Team huddle

Team huddle

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.

GALWAY STAR... Sean Og De Paor played for Con- nemara Boston Gaels in the late 90s

GALWAY STAR… Sean Og De Paor played for Connemara Boston Gaels in the late 90s

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.

Declan Meehan played for Connemara Boston Gaels

Declan Meehan played for Connemara
Boston Gaels

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.

Proud Sponsors of Connemara Gaels GFC Boston

 

 

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