Growing up on a housing estate in West Dublin in the 90s, soccer became the sport of choice for most of my friends and I. The local GAA club may have been Lucan Sarsfields but most of us trained and played with Esker Celtic, Beech Park, Hillcrest and Lucan United.
While some of us togged out in the green, white and black of the parish, soccer was always the sport we played on the street in winter. It’s one of the reasons I laugh off any suggestions that Dublin’s population should guarantee GAA success.
Since moving to Roscommon three years ago, I’ve come to realise the importance of the GAA club to the local community. The vital role the club plays is never more evident than at this time of year as teams at all age levels compete in county finals. The enduring popularity of our national games could be seen in Athleague and Dr Hyde Park last weekend and will be witnessed this Sunday when Roscommon Gaels take on the mighty St. Brigid’s.
I enjoy this time of year but it also leaves me with a tinge of regret. Soccer was a worthwhile pastime and one I continue to enjoy but, much like study, I wish I’d taken Gaelic football more seriously or given it more time. The camaraderie between clubmates and even club rivals is a uniquely Irish thing.
So, with all the talk of testimonials, Super 8s, the inevitable slide towards professionalism, let’s not forget the importance of local clubs and the people who drive them. This Sunday should be a celebration of all that is good about the national game.
So forget Goodison Park and White Hart Lane, Dr. Hyde Park in Roscommon Town is where the real Super Sunday is at this weekend.