London gets new Gaelic games 'county stadium'

The new stand at McGovern Park at Ruislip in London Image copyright London GAA
Image caption The new stand at McGovern Park at Ruislip in London

A new 3,000-capacity stadium to host Gaelic football and hurling will open in London on Sunday.

McGovern Park in Ruislip, west London, will cater for the UK capital's large Irish diaspora.

London and New York are treated as Irish counties by the GAA - the two sports' governing body - and compete in the country's annual competitions.

London plays matches as part of the Connacht province and, in 2013, reached the provincial Gaelic football final.

What are Gaelic games?

Gaelic football is a 15-a-side game, similar to rugby, played on a field larger than a football pitch.

The object of the game is to put the ball in your opponents' net (a goal, worth three points) or, failing that, between the posts and above the crossbar (for one point).

Hurling also involves 30 players on a pitch and sees players use a wooden stick called a hurley to move a small ball, or sliotar, around the field.

Other games organised by the GAA include Gaelic handball and rounders.

Noel Dunning, chairman of the Ruislip Development Committee, which was behind the building of the stadium, said: "It's not just a boost for London GAA, it's a boost for the GAA in Britain.

"It's a tremendous shot in the arm, it's something for younger players coming through the ranks in London to aspire to," he added.

The London GAA was formed in 1896 to give the Irish community in England's capital an opportunity to play Gaelic football and hurling.

The new ground cost £4.3m to build, £930,000 was raised by the London GAA and the rest came from grant aid and a loan from GAA headquarters in Croke Park.

The ball was due to be thrown in for McGovern Park's first game at 15:30 BST on Sunday when London were due to host Leitrim in the quarter-final of the Connacht Gaelic Football Championship.

Win it and they will have taken one step closer to achieving every Gaelic player's ultimate dream - playing at the All-Ireland Final at Dublin's Croke Park in September.

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