January 23, 2022

Cayman Islands GAA: A home from home for Irish in the Caribbean

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By Lainey Broderick in the Caribbean From Irish Times

Tropical island’s club has 250 playing members and multiple nationalities

At Cayman Islands GAA, our selection process is far from harsh. If you can afford the flight ticket for matches abroad and can get the days off work, then you make the squad. It’s a novel approach to picking your team, but living on an island in the middle of the Caribbean, it is the only way to ensure we have enough players to enter a tournament like the GAA North American Championships, held in San Francisco last month.

We are never short of a squad to pick from; in fact the Cayman Islands Gaelic Football Club is the biggest sporting club on island, with approximately 250 playing members and a further 500 plus ex-players and social club members. This year also saw the launch of our kids club, with 70 budding young GAA stars picking up the game.

Our club membership boasts a plethora of nationalities – Irish and Caymanian of course, along with players from South Africa, Canada, the US, UK, France, Italy, Australia, Zimbabwe and New Zealand, to name but a few. Most members new to the island have never seen Gaelic football or hurling before, but are soon welcomed and shown the ropes.

Your level of play is not an issue; everyone is invited to join and everyone is assigned a team, regardless of ability. Each year the team captains draw players much like an NFL draft, to ensure the standard is as equal as can be going into the next season of games, with six teams in the Men’s and four teams in the Ladies’ Leagues.

On the dewy playing fields of Treasure Island, an old deserted naval station home to the playing pitches of San Francisco GAA, our Men’s team kicked off with an early morning game. We were hopeful, but (being a Mayo supporter myself) we were also prepared for the imminent heartache ahead. We knew we could never be a match for the county players over in the US on their J-1s.

Weeks and weeks of training, injuries and exhaustion seem wasted as we were knocked out of the cup in the first game. Who could blame us, a squad all over 30 years old, having travelled 4,500km and arriving only 10 hours before? Despite our best efforts, it was just not meant to be.

IMAGES:

Cayman Islands Gaelic Football Club is the biggest sporting club on the island, with 250 playing members. Photograph: gaa.ie

Cayman Islands GAA Ladies at the North American Championships in San Francisco.

For more on this story go to; https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/cayman-islands-gaa-a-home-from-home-for-irish-in-the-caribbean-1.3241303

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