by Sean Moriarty
An Under-age London Gaelic Football team, made up almost entirely of children with no link to Ireland won a major international tournament in Kerry over the weekend.
Dulwich Harps, which draws its panel from schools like St Paul’s Academy in Abbeywood on the city’s south side and two from St Thomas More school in the northern suburb of Wood Green.
The tournament, called Comórtas Peile John Egan, a five-time All Ireland medallist, is in memory of the Kerry great who died suddenly in 2012.
Played at various locations throughout Kerry, the competition is now in its second year, but for the first time the entrants were invited from oversees.
“Some of these lads would have never been out of the country before if it wasn’t for Gaelic Football, so we are certainly enriching their lives,” said Dulwich Harps U14 coach, Brian Smyth an ex-London county hurler and Westmeath County Footballer. He was speaking to local news website TraleeToday.com.
“Gaelic Football is such a strong part of the locality of Dulwich which is a very deprived area, there’s not much for these lads to do,” he added.
“They’re coming on leaps and bounds. We’re getting better year in year out, we’ve won our division in the All Ireland Feile three years in a row. Next year we’re moving up to Division Two which is going to be very difficult, but we’re going to enjoy the challenge” “Our goal is to keep them interested and to get them playing inter-county football for London,” he said.
The Dulwich Harps team defeated Killarney Legion at Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday afternoon on a score-line of 6-12 to 1-08. Will Ozono, who has been signed on a four year contract to Crystal Palace Youths scored four goals in the final.
It is not the first time the team members have enjoyed such success. The recently won the London County Under 14 Division One title and were successful in Division Three in the recent Feile Peile Na N’Og in Connacht late last month. It was their success in this latter competition that led to their invitation to the Kerry-based blitz at the weekend.
A local organiser said: “I want to congratulate Dulwich Harps on an absolutely magnificent display over the weekend. These lads were the best-drilled I have ever seen. They have all the skills, speed and above all the discipline. The warm ups and cool-downs mesmerised everyone of us. Keep the GAA alive and kicking in St Paul’s academy and everything you stand for . I expect to see a serious County tam in the near future.”