That state of Texas is known for its rebellious and confident nature, and is steadily becoming a breeding ground for the Gaelic Games. The spirit of the games, including Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and handball, is that of saoirse, emblazoned and empowered by an invincible Irish mentality. This mentality sits well in the rugged landscape of Texas, and the formation of four Gaelic clubs in the state over the last couple of years is testament to the fact. San Antonio has become one of those breeding grounds.
The San Antonio Gaelic Athletics Club (SAGAC) found one of its first sponsors in the AOH of San Antonio, continuing a tradition of Catholic support that began with the formation of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The GAA was founded on All Saints Day in 1884 in County Tipperary. It grew out of the need for Irish culture not to be “forgotten altogether” (Orejan 47) during a time when British occupation was the norm, and Irish sports were frowned upon or banned completely. The original two founding members, Michael Cuzak and Maurice Davin, recognized a need to “establish the support of some prestigious patrons” (Orejan 47) and turned to the Catholic Church. They found their patron in the archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Thomas Croke, who provided much needed momentum. The AOH has provided much of the SAGAC’s momentum, and many of the SAGAC players are also brothers in the AOH Columkille Division in San Antonio.
Currently, the SAGAC consists of a male Gaelic football team, but plans to start a women’s team and develop a program for children to learn the game in the near future. This season the club, known as the Defenders, finds itself locked in battle with teams from Austin, Dallas and Houston, in the newly formed Texas Cup tournament. This September they will also be travelling to Philadelphia in support of the North American GAA Football championships.
Dr. Jaime Orejan writes in “The History of Gaelic Football and the Gaelic Athletic Association” that “the love affair between the Irish and the game they have nurtured through the ages shows no sign of fading” and the growing popularity of football in San Antonio testifies to this. There is a very bright future for the Gaelic games in Ireland and abroad because the Irish people, from all over the world, refuse to let them die. For more information on the SAGAC, visit www.sanantoniogac.org.
Orejan, Jaime. “The History of Gaelic Football and the Gaelic Athletic Association.” The Sport Management and Related Topics Journal Spring 2006: 45-51. Web.