Noel O’Sullivan has told the Irish World that his vote in favour of allowing the Irish Guards team join London GAA was a common sense decision to benefit gaelic games both here and internationally.
At last week’s county board meeting a senior representative of the Irish Guards made the proposal to London club delegates behind closed doors, and the Waterford native sparked a debate amongst those both for and against the British Army joining the county.
When he left the room the voting was split 15-15, leaving chairperson O’Sullivan forced to give the casting vote.
“It was not something I had to think about too much,” he told the Irish World.
“I voted in favour of it in the initial vote so I was not going to go back on that afterwards. I can understand the arguments from both parties but at the end of it all I just chose what I believe leads to the betterment of London and to the GAA in general.”
The move comes 14 years after a controversial lift on the ban on members of the British armed forces and police joining the GAA, which at the time sparked lengthy divisive debates over deleting the Rule 21.
Many in favour of allowing the Irish Guards commented that there was no point in that ban ever being lifted if it was not put into practice by welcoming teams in.
Prior to the vote former London GAA chairman Tommy Harrell, of Fr Murphys, told the Irish World: “GAA should be about sport, not history.”
O’Sullivan, who travelled to Dublin to watch his native Kerry contest the All Ireland Football Final at the weekend, said that the result had not come up much over the weekend.
“I travelled with mainly London people, and by now the decision has been accepted and everyone is either preparing for their club’s county finals or for the season ahead.”
Having already trained withTir Chonaill Gaels, the new club will start at junior level in next season’s league, cups and championship.
The Irish Guards GAA club will not be restricted to soldiers but open to anyone living in areas surrounding their base in Hounslow Cavalry Barracks.