The Sligo connection - 3 Easkey players to feature at 2019 Renault GAA World Games
By Eoghan Tuohey
The visiting Australasian teams to the 2019 Renault GAA World Games will no doubt have fans and spectators coming from many parts of Ireland to support their family members and friends who are returning, but it turns out that some clubs may be better represented than others in this regard.
The Easkey GAA club in Sligo have no less than 3 former playing members who will feature for Australasia at the Games, establishing a unique connection between the western club and the colossal continental area. 31-year-old Louise Lindsay is an accountant in her day job, but her talents and influence around the middle of the park will be determining factors if the Irish-born Australasian side are to balance the books, and go one better than their efforts in 2016. Last time around, they came up short against a strong Parnells outfit. Despite being Down Under for nearly five years, Lyndsay looks back fondly on her playing days in Sligo.
"I guess my strong memories include playing with the boys team under 10 & 12 as there was was no ladies team at the time. I would have played on these teams with my two brothers. The ladies team is Eoghan Rua GAA (amalgamation of Easkey and neighbouring parish Enniscrone) which was a huge part of my my life for almost 15 years before moving to Sydney.
The mens team reached the All-Ireland Junior Final this year in Croke Park which was devastating to miss. My brothers still play so I would have gone to watch most of their games over the years."
The squad is made up of the best players throughout the country, making collective training logistically difficult. However, the whole panel is meeting up over the June bank holiday in Sydney, something Lindsay is looking forward to.
"The entire ladies football squad are meeting up over the June public holiday weekend in Sydney for training and team bonding. I suspect after this, players interstate will meet up weekly to continue training, so we'll be in good shape come the end of July!"
A figurehead at number 8 for her adopted club, Central Coast in Sydney and for New South Wales at the State Games in 2018, Louise cites her ball carrying, fitness and speed abilities as her chief strengths on the field.
The novelty factor of three players/coaches from the same home club now returning to Ireland to represent Australasia at the GAA World Games is unusual, and will no doubt draw a sizeable Sligo support down to Waterford, and, hopefully, Croke Park on August 2nd!
"Yeah, family and numerous friends are hoping to travel to Waterford to watch the Games, it will be an incredible occasion! Australasia have three former players from Easkey in Sligo travelling with the men's and ladies' football squads. Ollie Gordon is the manager of the men's Native Born side and James Rolston is playing with the Irish Born football team".
A former professional Irish dancer, Lindsay's achievements on the GAA field make for impressive viewing. She helped claim 2018 State Games titles for NSW in both Football and Camogie, and is keen to add a GAA World Games title to that resumé.
"I'm very grateful of the opportunity to represent Australasia at the GAA World Games alongside a very talented bunch of girls. Hoping we will get a run out at Croker to top off the experience."
Elsewhere among the sizeable Australasian contingent, the remaining Easkey cohort is made up of James Rolston, who is a member of the Australasian Irish Born side, and Ollie Gordon, manager of the Native Born squad. Rolston is well established in Australia at this stage, he and his wife, Caroline, and their three kids have been based there for some eight years. But the passion the former Sligo Minor, U-21 and Senior panellist has for his beloved Gaelic Football still remains, and he is immensely looking forward to getting back on Irish soil to compete for major honours.
"'I am delighted to represent Australasia in world games back home and can’t wait to experience the trip. I think it’s a brilliant concept to get people from all over world to come and play our games!"
An Australian All-Star winner last season, the dynamic half-back, who works in the construction industry, will have a lot to offer this side, and his ability to read a game will be critical if they are to challenge the Middle Eastern sides, who dominated the division in 2016.
"I wouldn't have a huge knowledge of the opposition we'd be up against, but I'd imagine the teams from the UAE would be of a very good standard. I'm looking forward to some of my family travelling from Sligo for the week, it'll be great to catch up and to enjoy the football and the craic!."
The final Gael with Easkey heritage, who will be patrolling the sidelines at the WIT Arena will be Ollie Gordon, of the Clann na nGael club in Bondi, who has also been based in Australia for close to 8 years. Another with duel interests, he won a Sligo County Hurling Championship in 2010 with Western Gaels, as well as an Australasian Hurling Championship title as a player in 2017, and a Camogie title in 2018 as a member of the management team.
"I'm extremely proud to represent my adopted country at these games back home. It'll be great to be back and hopefully we can make a decent go of it!"
The west will surely be awake in Waterford this summer as one club, in particular, will return to home shores in a blaze of glory.