GAA: West Cork's Geoff Kingston doubles up in London

Former Clann na nGael player enjoyed success with St Kiernan’s and St Gabriel’s as he explains to John Bohane
GAA: West Cork's Geoff Kingston doubles up in London

Geoff Kingston, left, with William Brazil after winning the London SHC.

CORK man Geoff Kingston recently achieved a unique feat as he captured two senior club championship titles in London in both codes.

The former Clann na nGael defender who moved to London in 2015 won the senior football championship title with St Kiernan’s and a senior hurling championship title with St Gabriel’s. St Kiernan’s required a replay to overcome Fulham Irish, while St Gabriel’s defeated Robert Emmett’s by six points.

He played a key role in both triumphs and was thrilled to capture both senior club championship titles this season.

“It is an unreal achievement. It was a fantastic feeling to capture the double. It wouldn’t be a common occurrence and it is nice to be rewarded with success after a long season in both codes,” he said.

St Kiernan’s recent success in the London senior football championship represented the second successive season they have captured the title. They defeated Fulham Irish by five points in the county final.

He said they had to ‘work hard’ to ensure they prevailed following a tough final.

“It is great to win back-to-back titles. Fulham Irish pushed us all the way in the first game and for stages of the replay.

“We had to really work hard to keep the door closed on them from making a comeback. We have a fantastic group of lads out on the pitch and a great management team who keep us on the straight and narrow.”

He joined St Kiernan’s which is based in North London as soon as he landed in London over seven years ago. He said the club which has now won three senior county final titles continues to go from strength to strength.

“They are a fantastic club to be a part of. I joined them when I landed here in 2015 and I have made so many friends throughout the club.

The club is thriving and only going from strength to strength. We recently relocated to a newly developed pitch in Barnet, while a ladies’ football team was also established this year.”

St Kiernan’s is not a dual club, so the Cork man who played hurling with Randal Óg back home in Cork decided to join St Gabriel’s to continue playing hurling. Along with fellow Cork man Andrew Curtin, he represented the Rebels on the hurling team.

St Gabriel’s defeated old rivals Robert Emmett’s by six points following a hard-fought final.

Kingston, who operates at corner-back in both codes, said the pain of losing last year’s final drove them on this year.

“I play hurling with St Gabriel’s who are located in Wembley. I joined them two years ago as one of my teammates with St Kiernans was involved as a coach with St Gabriel’s. I am joined on the team by Andrew Curtin who hails from Youghal.

Geoff Kingston, left, with St Kiernan's team-mates David Carrabine, Brian Ruttledge, David Rodgers, Kenny O'Connor, and William Brazil.
Geoff Kingston, left, with St Kiernan's team-mates David Carrabine, Brian Ruttledge, David Rodgers, Kenny O'Connor, and William Brazil.

“We defeated Robert Emmett’s following a very tough final. We lost out last year in the county final after extra-time in a replay so there was a lot of hurt from that which probably spurred us on a good bit this year,” he added.

Kingston relished the big crowd and the atmosphere for both county finals in Ruislip. “There was a great crowd in attendance for both the football and hurling county finals.

Both clubs would have a large cohort of supporters who either have a present or a past connection with the two clubs. They bring lots of passion and the atmosphere at both finals was brilliant.”

The Cork GAA enthusiast acknowledged balancing both codes can present logistical ‘headaches’ now and again but credits the coaches for their understanding manner.

“It has its logistical headaches now and again, but overall it has worked well. I would have a good honest relationship with both management teams. 

I would always let them know if I was going to be training in either football or hurling in any given week in good time and they were always accommodating.

“There are usually a few weekends during the season when you would have back-to-back games, so that can be difficult, but you just must get on with it.

“There were three other dual players who featured on both panels, so it was a satisfying end to the season for all of us.

“The standard in both codes is rising all the time in London. The football championship is probably more open with regards to the number of teams who could win the title,” he added.

Geoff Kingston in action for St Kiernan's.
Geoff Kingston in action for St Kiernan's.

St Kiernan’s and St Gabriel’s were subsequently involved in senior club championship action in Connacht following their success in the London senior county finals.

Gabriels were defeated by Leitrim side Toureen, while St Kiernan’s narrowly succumbed to Leitrim side St Mary’s.

EXPERIENCE

Kingston enjoyed the experience of playing in the Connacht club championship.

“We lost out to a dogged Toureen side in the semi-final. We couldn’t overcome them on the day.

“We were very unlucky in the football championship as we were level pegging going into injury time but conceded two late goals having led for most of the game.

“It was a fantastic experience to play teams outside of London. We gave both teams a very competitive game and they had to grind out their victories.

“A win at the senior grade for London club teams continues to elude the county, but with the talent currently playing it is hopefully only a matter of time before a London team succeeds."

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