Passage host London's Kilburn Gaels and push on with new developments

Clubhouse works to follow new pitch development for growing club on the edge of Cork city
Passage host London's Kilburn Gaels and push on with new developments

The Passage and Kilburn Gaels squads after the recent challenge match in Passage.

LAST Saturday saw Passage West host visitors from London as Kilburn Gaels Hurling Club visited Manning Park to play the hosts’ junior A side, the reigning city division champions.

Playing on the newly refurbished main pitch, both teams put on a tremendous exhibition of hurling for assembled the supporters of both clubs, with Kilburn Gaels edging the contest at the final whistle.

Kilburn’s current club chairperson is Carrigaline native Killian McSweeney, whose grandfather Micheál Mac Suibhne served as Cork County Board underage secretary for a number of years.

Historically, Kilburn in North London was an area to where Irish emigrants would gravitate and the club – hurling only – was established as an underage operation in 1991, aimed at encouraging London-born children to play hurling. An adult arm was added in 1997 as an amalgamation of Desmonds and Glen Rovers. The 25th anniversary was marked with the trip to Cork, which was intended to double up as a promotional exercise for the club.

Based in Highgate in North London, Kilburn Gaels won the senior county title in 2010, 2014 and 2017, reaching the All-Ireland intermediate club final after the middle victory, losing out to O’Donovan Rossa of Antrim. Currently, they play in the London intermediate championship while there is a second team that competes in the league.

The aim of the club is to provide an opportunity for players based in London or moving over to the city to join a club and continue playing hurling, while off the field there is also a very strong sense of community within the club which enables new players to settle in very quickly, make new friends and new contacts.

As well as McSweeney, Kevin Foley from Blackrock is currently playing with Kilburn, while Seán Conlon, originally Carrigaline but now with Ballinascarthy, played until relatively recently and guested for the visitors last Saturday in Passage. and Mallow men Pádraig Buckley, Aaron Sheehan, Cian O’Neill and Shane Holland.

Action from the recent hurling challenge match between Passage and Kilburn Gaels of London.
Action from the recent hurling challenge match between Passage and Kilburn Gaels of London.

Kilburn Gaels start their hurling nursery from U11 upwards on their pitch at Highgate. For any Cork people in London seeking a hurling outlet, or for those who may be about to move, Tom Bergin – a Tipperary man who captained Glen Rovers (the London version) to a county title in 1993 is the Kilburn Gaels point of contact on 0044-7961-843075, while they are also active on Facebook and Instagram.

Passage have recently completed works on their main pitch, an undertaking of €130,000, and it is now in full use. As outlined by club chairperson Eoin Barry recently, there are more jobs on the horizon.

“We’re not a big town but we’re not a small town either, we’re in the middle,” he said.

We sustain a lot of different sports but they all draw from the same pool and it’s difficult, you have to be on it the whole time. We’d love to have bigger numbers but we don’t.

“You view what you provide to the kids as your product and you have to do it properly. We would view ourselves as a club on the up. If things go our way, we have a vision for the club for the next three years with three projects that we’d like to complete.

“Project number 2, once we can get the correct funding, is an expansion of our existing clubhouse and dressing rooms to include a gym and meeting rooms and so on, which is €160,000.

AMBITIOUS

“We also hope to put in a community walkway around our main pitch, which is around €16,000. We’re ambitious, we have plans and we want to be a club constantly moving forward but at the heart of the community, which is very important to us down in Passage West.”

Just before Christmas, a new book, Glór an Pasáiste, was launched, charting the goings-on of the previous 15 years – a timely publication, given the success on the field as they claimed the Seandún hurling title for the first time.

Seán Geary published the first edition back in 1966 and continued doing so until 1969. Matt Ahern, Tommy Lester, and Paddy O’Mahony were the next to take up the baton, publishing editions in 1979 to 1984. Present author John O’Connor closed a 20-year gap in 2004 and also completed another edition in 2005. 

Matt Ahern published a full history of the club in 2006 and his work won the national McNamee Award the following year. This is the only time a Cork club have won this award in the club history section.

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