West Side Irish American Club News Archive

Gaelic Football history in Cleveland

Cleveland itself has an amazing GAA history going back to c1918 with the Cleveland Young Ireland’s Football team. Players on this team included the late Pat Duffy, Jim Mannion and Phil McGovern. There are stories of how the team would take the night boat to Detroit for games. After the game they would attend a dance then the night boat back to Cleveland. It is believed there were also active clubs in Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

Henry Cavanaugh was President of the Cleveland GAA in the 1930’s. Games were played at local venues such as Gordon Park, Edgewater Park, Puritas Springs Park and Shamrock Field. It is thought that none or very little Gaelic football was played in the city from the late 1930’s to mid-1940’s. It is in 1948 that we find records of the current club Cleveland St Pat’s GFC being formed.

In 1949 Pat Lynch, Henry Cavanaugh and Pat Duffy in conjunction with contacts in Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Buffalo formed the Midwest Gaelic Football League. Games were played at Brookside, League Park, Shaw Stadium and West Tech. A new practice field was eventually located at E110th and St Clair. In the fall of 1950 Katherine (Murphy) Kearney was elected secretary of the Cleveland GAA. At the same time a Midwest select team travelled to Boston to play a New England select team. The Midwest team was coached by Pat Duffy and had 2 Clevelanders on the team: Mickey Prendergast and Gene O’Donnell. The Midwest would win by a single point.

Throughout the 1950’s it seems there were several different Gaelic Football and hurling teams in Cleveland. It would be Cleveland St Pat’s team that would go on to dominate the North American GAA scene during the 1960’s winning 3 national titles in a row

Over the next few decades members of the Cleveland GAA would become greatly involved with the National GAA – John O’Brien, Sean Gannon, Henry Cavanaugh, John Herlighy, Al O’Leary to name but a few. St Pat’s GFC would continue alone through the 1970’s. this past few decades the club has seen several men take on the role as club chairman; from the 1980’s to early 2000’s it was the Gannon family who made the commitment with both Sean Sr. and Jr. taking on the role. More recently, since 2005 Derry native Mark Owens has served as Chairman.

Cleveland St Pat’s have been the long standing home team of the West Side Irish-American Club for quite a while and have long term plans to develop the current field with the help assistance of the GAA in Ireland. It is an exciting time for the local team as they will be leading the way in hosting the 2013 National Gaelic Games to be held in Cleveland.

If interested in playing for the team please email stpatsgfc@yahoo.com or visit their website at www.clevelandstpatsgfc.com. Feel free to call Mark Owens with questions at 440-331-3539.

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