CHESTER has long enjoyed a healthy amateur sports scene, with football, rugby and cricket all flourishing.
But there is a sport coming to the city which is hoping to establish itself for many years to come – Gaelic football.
Jason Callaghan, originally from Dublin, came to Chester to study at the city’s university to become a PE teacher. Now he has settled here, the 24-year-old is promoting the game – an Irish national sport which pre-dates both rugby and football – in the area.
Having played all his life, including for the Chester University team and for a club team in Manchester, Jason recently decided to set up his own club in Chester. After a great and unexpected response, plans are underway for Naomh Padraig’s, or St Patrick’s, to join the Pennine League in March.
“When I first began putting the word out that I wanted to start a team I expected Irish ex-pats to show an interest,” said Jason, of Hoole.
“But there were two things I never realised – the size of the Irish population of Chester and the interest among the English and Welsh in the game.
“It seems that the television coverage provided by Setanta Sports of Gaelic football from Ireland has sparked a real interest among people in this country.”
The squad already has about 20 playing members and a full committee, as well as a host of fans waiting to go along and support the team.
Jason has secured the use of the Chester University Gaelic football pitch, next to Blacon police station, for now and St Werburgh’s Community Centre acts as their clubhouse.
“Training and friendly matches against Chester University will start in the new year,” said Jason.
“We deliberately have no students in the team as we want to have a continuous squad rather than rely on players who may leave to go home mid-season during the holidays or take study leave.
“When I looked at it, there are clubs in Manchester and Liverpool but down here and in North Wales it is virtually untapped.
“As a result we have a huge interest shown from the Wirral and across the border and we draw our members from across the region.”
As well as signing players and setting up a club structure, St Patrick’s are also appealing for sponsorship in order to buy balls and jerseys.
“The committee is working hard to get things in place and we are all looking forward to bringing Gaelic football to Chester,” said Jason.
Anyone interested in getting involved with the club or sponsorship can e-mail Jason at email@example.com
*A hundred thousand welcomes.