By Damian Dolan
Numbers at hurling training at Cú Chulainns have taken a sudden increase of late. Not surprising given the east London club will be running out at Croke Park in April.
It will be the first time in its long and proud history that a Cú Chulainns team will play a match at the home of the GAA.
“We’ve a few [footballers] who’ve shown a bit more interest,” says Cú Chulainns chairperson Joe Cashman told the Irish World.
“We’ve a full turn out at training. There’s a couple of footballers who fancy themselves as hurlers.”
It’s all thanks to a club from Cork. Kilbrin GAA Club were winners of last year’s National Club Draw, the prize for which was the “opportunity to play a Match in Croke Park” against a team of their choice.
They chose Cú Chulainns, due to the “strong connections” between the two clubs.
“Not a lot of people get to play at Croke Park. There’s people who played GAA their whole lives who didn’t get the opportunity to play there,” said Cashman.
“It’s not going to be like on All Ireland final day, but it’s a great opportunity for people to experience it. It will be something to say that we did.”
Several Kilbrin locals are currently involved with Cú Chulainns, either as active players and/or boards members, including Cashman.
The club also has its chairperson to thank for its forthcoming, and historic, Croker day out.
Cashman penned a letter to his native club, highlighting Cú Chulainns’s strong and numerous links to Cork, Kilbrin and the Duhallow region, which go back to the east London club’s formation and still exist to this day.
“They considered all options and they selected us,” added Cashman.
Please follow the link below on updated details on our upcoming game in Croke Park v @CuChulainnsGAA 🏟
Looking forward to a great day
— Kilbrin GAA (@KilbrinGAAClub) January 10, 2020
One of London’s oldest clubs, Cú Chulainns’s hurling team was founded in 1932 by Cork men. Its football team followed two years later with new arrivals from the Beara region of west Cork playing a leading role in setting it up.
Mick Biggane from Tullylease – an active member of Cú Chulainns since the 1970s and its president – is the brother of current Kilbrin chairperson Margaret O’Callaghan.
Mick’s son, Padraig, who is born and raised in London, will be lining up against his cousins who play for Kilbrin.
Current active members Tom Brennan and Mike Murphy also hail from Kilbrin.
The game will take place on Sunday 19th April and will be a “proud” day for the east London club, and the team can expect to be well supported on the day.
Travelling in strength back to Ireland that weekend, Cú Chulainns’s footballers will play a challenge match on the Saturday (opponents to be confirmed) before everyone heads to Croke Park.
They’re also expecting former members, who’ve since moved home, to turn out. In total, there’ll be up to 200 Cú Chulainns members, past and present, at Croke Park.
“It will be nice to meet up with everyone,” said Cashman.