By Damian Dolan
London Masters footballer Aidan Dillane has called upon the GAA to officially recognise the Gaelic Masters and repay London’s veterans for their years of service to the game by allowing them to play at McGovern Park.
Currently all matches in the annual Gaelic Masters tournament for over 40s can only be played on community pitches.
All participating Masters’ counties pay into the Masters’ insurance and are not covered under Croke Park’s insurance.
“It really is a shame that the GAA doesn’t recognise the Masters or us as footballers and give us the insurance to play on GAA pitches,” Dillane told the Irish World.
“Many of us have given years to the GAA and it would have been lovely for Croke Park to support us. Maybe one day.
“The [Masters] committee back home are working hard to try and get that insurance sorted and for Croke Park to recognise the Masters as a legitimate GAA football team that can play on GAA football pitches.”
London re-entered the competition last year and have so far played all of their home games at Tir Chonaill Park in Greenford.
London have two home games remaining in this year’s competition, both of which would be huge draws to McGovern Park. They welcome Donegal on June 9 and Dublin on July 7.
Dillane added: “These people have given an awful lot to the GAA and it would have been nice to have something back, that people recognise them and they play on good proper pitches.
“Nearly all of the guys playing in the London Masters haven’t played in the new Ruislip. That’s a shame; McGovern Park Ruislip is a fantastic facility right now and it would be lovely for these boys to play there.
“It’s superb, and that’s our home pitch and it would be lovely to be recognised and out there playing.”
The Gaelic Masters was instigated and run by the GAA from 1990 until 2009, when they ended their involvement, reportedly because of insurance concerns. It was then taken on by the Gaelic Masters Association. Starting with just five counties in 2010, it has since grown to 16.
The most recent additions for 2018 are Dublin, Clare and Down. London, under the instigation of David Igoe, returned to the tournament in 2017 after a prolonged absence.
The commitment of the London players extends to paying their own way to fund their away trips to Ireland for matches.
“We want to do it; there’s no qualms about us paying our way. The lads who came in had no problem paying to go back, which was fantastic,” said Dillane.
Dillane is one of several on the London Masters panel to have played senior for the county. Fergal Cunningham, Brian McBrearty and David Cannon all played inter-county for the Exiles, while Fergus McMahon represented London at both football and hurling, and captained the Exiles to Nicky Rackard Cup success at Croke Park.
“It would be lovely if McGovern Park and Ruislip said ‘we’d love you to play here because of the number of years you’ve played here you’ve kept the GAA going’,” said Dillane.
“Maybe one day we’ll get a chance to play at McGovern Park, and experience kicking a few points or winning a game there.”