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St. James Gaels/An Caislean To Celebrate Thirty Years In The Community

St. James Gaels/An Caislean To Celebrate Thirty Years In The Community

St. James Gaels/An Caislean GAA Club, which is about to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, has been a focal point at the heart of the Crumlin, Drimnagh and Walkinstown communities since it was formed in July 1994.

The club was formed as the result of an amalgamation of Guinness GAA Club and An Caislean GAA Club. Both of these clubs had been in existence for many years, but they were struggling due to the increasing age profile within their respective base areas. Therefore, rather than let the two clubs to go out of existence completely, both sets of club officers agreed, following negotiations, to pool their resources, with a view to forming one club to serve the Crumlin/Drimnagh/Walkinstown catchment areas.

An Caislean GAA Club can trace its roots back to 1958 when a group of church stewards from Walkinstown Church decided to establish a new GAA Club, to represent the newly-established Assumption Parish Walkinstown. With the blessing of the parish clergy, they formed CLG Naomh Gearoid (St. Gerard’s) which went on to become a powerful force in the local community.

Naomh Gearoid GAA Club originally puchased a site on the Long Mile Road, Walkinstown, for a club premises and pitches. However, the club founders were forced to re-sell this property to pay off their debts and in 1966 the club formed an alliance with the Christian Brothers in Drimnagh Castle CBS, also on the Long Mile Road.

This was a tremendous boost to the club, as they were given the use of the school pitches and dressing rooms, while continuing to operate within the parish boundaries. As part of this arrangement, the club members agreed to change their name to An Caislean and in the process, become the club for Brothers, pupils and past pupils of the school, nearly all of whom lived in Walkinstown parish.

During its twenty-eight years in existence, An Caislean won a number of championship and league titles at various grades. Among the highlights  during this period were a win in the Dublin Intermediate Football League in 1987 and a runners-up spot in the Dublin Intermediate Football Championship in the same year. Another significant achievement was when the club’s junior hurlers reached the Dublin Junior Hurling Championship final in 1979.

Guinness GAA Club’s history extends much further back than its “sister” club, An Caislean. The first GAA Club to represent and win in an All-Ireland (1891) for Dublin, was a club called Young Irelands. This club was made-up of officials and labourers from Guinness’s Brewery and in the 1890’s they won several All-Ireland titles, at a time when club champions represented their counties in All-Ireland tournaments.

Young Irelands ceased to exist in the early years of the twentieth century and were replaced by a club called Phoenix GFC. However, this club experienced limited success during its lifetime, before it was replaced in the mid-forties by Guinness Hurling and Football Club, which was based at the Iveagh Grounds, Crumlin.

Guinness GAA Club, whose membership was confined to families and employees of the brewery and its associated companies, ran into financila difficulties during the economic downturn in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. This situation drastically reduced the intake of staff members of playing age and therefore forced the club board to consider winding-up their operation or merging with another club.

Recent highlights for St. James Gaels/An Caislean include their promotion from Division 7 of the Dublin Adult Football League in June of last year. Gaels secured the valuable second spot, by defeating Ballyboden St. Enda’s (1-12 to 0-9), garnering some much-needed tangible reward for all the club’s efforts in recent years.

From a position of prominence back in 1989, the club had steadily descended through the leagues. However, last season’s achievement has resulted in an increased sense of positivity around the club and augurs well for the future.

Ross Mulvany, who is Club Secretary and a current player, said at the time: “It has been a fairly tough time for the club down the years and ever since we were relegated from senior back in 2003, it has been a slow decline since then. We did manage to win the Junior ‘B’ Championship in 2012, beating St. Maur’s in the final, but that was just an isolated success and we were relegated to Division 7 of the league, two years later”.

“We just didn’t have the numbers coming through from underage at that time and some of the older lads retired, leaving us short of the numbers and quality that we required to be competitive”, he added.

The work done by GPO’s in the local schools of Crumlin, Drimnagh and Walkinstown has had a positive impact, with the club nursery held every Saturday morning in Bunting Park attracting large numbers.

This has enabled the club to incrementally improve their fortunes. Mulvany also paid tribute, at the time, to the influence that Alan O’ Riordan, Club Manager, has exerted since his arrival, last season, particularly in the area of recruiting fresh talent.

“Our manager, Alan O’ Riordan, who has come in this year and brought a bit of life and freshness to the whole set-up and he relates very well to the younger players in the club. We are looking to push on now for the championship and hopefully, we can be competitive in the Junior 1 Club Championship”, he explained.

“We were unfortunate enough to lose to Geraldine Morans. Last year, who went on to the final, so we know that on our day, we can be a match for most teams. We probably require a bit more consistency and if we manage that, we should be looking at consolidating in AFL6 next year and taking it from there and with the club having its first adult hurling team this year, the future looks brighter”, he concluded.

Kevin Dunne, who is Club PRO, insists that new members are always welcome. “Here in St. James Gaels/An Caislean we are always welcome to new players. No experience is necessary, as we will provide training. Players can start from as young as four years old in our introductory academy”, he said.

“We introduce the children to the skills of Gaelic games in a fun and safe environment. From there, the children progress to active teams, starting at Under-8, with recently established boys and girls Under-8 teams”, he added.

“We have teams for all ages, right up to adult teams. St. James Gaels/An Caislean is comitted to providing a safe environment for participating in group sports and have a ‘dedicated’ child protection officer”, he concluded.





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