By Damian Dolan
London’s native-born hurlers head to the World Games in Waterford with a homegrown panel full of experience and youthful vigour, and determined to represent the county in the cup final at Croke Park on 2 August.
But above all else, it’s a team which gives testament to the hard work put into the youth structure in London over the past 30 years, by the likes of Mick Joe O’Dwyer, John McCormack, Brendan O’Connor, Sean Maguire, Billy Connolly, Jimmy Howlin, Paul Doyle, Bernard Callanan, Adrian Woulfe and John O’Neill.
It’s these, and others like them, who have paved the way for this London born team to take the field and compete at this year’s Renault GAA World Games (28th July to 2nd Aug)
It’s also very much a family orientated team, with the Howlin family, Jimmy, Darren, Sean and Conor involved with the Callanans, Bernard, Aidan and Alan, along with Michael and Francis O’Dwyer, and their cousin Jack Doyle.
“The team has a very close bond as they all grew up here,” said Michael O’Dwyer.
The management team is London-born and raised Jimmy Howlin (Fr. Murphys) and Bobo Callanan (Granuaile). They’ve been able to call on players from six different London clubs – Fr. Murphy’s, Kilburn Gaels, Granuaile, Fulham Irish, Thomas McCurtains and St. Gabriel’s.
Michael O’Dwyer, Francis O’Dwyer, Jimmy Howlin, Darren Howlin, Sean Howlin and Martin Harrell have all played senior for London.
Michael and Francis O’Dwyer won senior championships with Kilburn Gaels, and Jimmy, Darren and Sean Howlin and Martin Harrell likewise with Fr Murphy’s.
Darren Howlin is the oldest player at 47, while the youngest is 19-year-old Aaron Roche.
It was Sean and Darren Howlin who came up with the initial idea of entering a team, and proposing it to the county board.
Jul 28 – Parade
Jul 29 – Aug 1 – GAA World Games
Aug 2 – Finals’ Day @CrokePark @GAAAsia @AustralasiaGAA @GAA_USA @GaelicGamesEuro @BPCGAA @GAAmiddleEast @ArgentinaGaa @SAGaels @NewYorkGAA @canadagaa pic.twitter.com/FxIfacMbPr
— GAA World Games (@GAAworldgames) May 15, 2019
“Bringing together this team was not easy and we have approached it as professionally as we can,” added O’Dwyer.
“In order to do this, we have to first thank the players, whose commitment has been second to none.
“Some lads could not commit to the squad once the training and match schedules were released, but those who have done have given it their all.”
A celebration of overseas passion for Gaelic Games, this year’s World Games, the third-ever staging of the competition, is set to be the biggest yet.
It all gets underway on 28 July at the WIT Arena in Carriganore and will see over 1,300 players from approximately 97 teams taking part from more than 25 countries around the world, from Australia, South Africa, Argentina, China, Canada, the Middle East, New York, North America, Asia, Europe, and Britain.
They’ll be competing across all four codes – hurling, camogie, Ladies and men’s Gaelic football – for world titles for Irish born and native players.
Shield and plate finals are set for 1 August with the eight cup finals all played at Croke Park the following day. London’s hurlers have been in training since March at Greenford and the Shamrock Club in Acton, and have their sights on reaching Croker.
To do so, they’ll have to overcome Pearse Óg, NCGAA, Allentown, Canada Hurling and New York if they are to reach the knock-out stages.
O’Dwyer added: “We would like to thank our sponsors who have helped to fund this wonderful opportunity to go to Ireland and represent London in the 2019 Renault GAA World Games, and hopefully winning in Croke Park.
“We would also like to thank London chairman John Lacey and London secretary Mark Gottsche for their efforts.”
London Panel: Seán Howlin (C), Darren Howlin, Conor Howlin, Aaron Roche, Chris Weller (all Fr Murphy’s), Michael O’Dwyer, Francis O’Dwyer, Jack Doyle, Seán Freeman, (all Kilburn Gaels), Aidan Callanan, Alan Callanan, Stephen Walsh, (all Granuaile), Ultan Coonan, Charlie Rose (both St. Gabriel’s), Liam O’Brien (Thomas McCurtains).
Sponsors: Barry Reilly, Life of Reilly, Adrian O’Malley, O’Malley Haulage, Michael O’Dwyer, Galcross Engineering, Paul Fenton, Fenton Civil Engineering, Paul Maguire, The Property Crew, Mitchellson.
Jersey sponsors: Carey’s Foundation, Austin Whelan – Whelan’s pubs and O’Farrell’s Butchers, Willesden.