City GAA club is fighting tough battle to regain former glories

Thomas Cox, Chairman of the Fr Griffins/Éire Óg GAA Club.
Thomas Cox, Chairman of the Fr Griffins/Éire Óg GAA Club.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

Fr. Griffin’s/Éire Óg may often be the forgotten child of Galway GAA – both in the city and county – but Chairman Thomas Cox says the once great club still boasts of massive potential and believes it can rise to sporting prominence again.

Based between South Park (or The Swamp) in The Claddagh (Fr. Griffin’s) and Crestwood (Éire Óg), the club has struggled, at times, to keep its proverbial head above water since its amalgamation in February 2007.

There are a number of reasons for this. Aside from all the other sports in the City, within the GAA, Fr. Griffin’s/Éire Óg are also competing for the attention of players within the catchment area of senior outfits St. James’, St. Michael’s and even Salthill/Knocknacarra along with hurling sides Liam Mellows and Castlegar.

Added to this, there isn’t the playing population in The Claddagh to sustain a team while along their main thoroughfare on the Headford Road there is a broad multi-national mix of families, many of whom, by and large, have only begun to put down roots in the area.

In recent years though, Fr. Griffin’s/Éire Óg, who claimed the Division 6 (West) League title this year, have been running a novel programme to attract more children between the ages of six to 12 into the club. The initiative is called ‘Peil Pal’ – and works off the principle of making friends while learning the skills of Gaelic football.

“It had been successful initially in that we started getting numbers back up but what then began to happen – and the problem we ran into in the areas we were in – was when we stopped coaching in September, you had a huge drop off in numbers by the time we returned in April or May,” notes Cox.

“That was because people were gone off to do something else, be it soccer or whatever. So, that has been our struggle for a while. We had grown it to a stage where we thought we would have an U-12 team last year but, unfortunately, what happened was we then lost two key guys who were coaching as they moved away.”

The transient nature of the city club’s membership, Cox highlights, has continually been a problem for them – mainly because they do not possess a defined base of operations unlike their rival GAA clubs, football and hurling, around the city.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.