Youth teams learn Gaelic sports in Dorchester, Canton

For nearly a decade, Saint Brendan’s Gaelic Athletics Club in Dorchester has brought the fast-paced fun of Irish sports to the youth of Boston’s neighborhoods. With more than 100 members, the organization keeps busy teaching players the skills and techniques needed to play and enjoy Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie matches.
The Saint Brendan’s club supports a wide range of athletes by age, starting with teams in the Under-6 Division, and finishing with teams in the Under-18 Division. The players compete in the North East Minor Board division against teams from Springfield, Canton, and Milton, MA, Hartford, CT, and Portland, ME. Programs run year-round, with an indoor set from January until March, and an outdoor set from April on.
Dorchester’s Adrienne Munroe has three sons—Brendan, 14, Ryan 12, and Liam, 10—who play both hurling and Gaelic football for Saint Brendan’s. During the winter, the boys practice with their teams for two hours on Sundays, with an hour devoted to hurling, and an hour to Gaelic football.
When Pope John Paul II Park reopens in the spring, the boys and their teams will practice on hurling and football pitches twice a week, developing plays and refining their skills in preparation for a competitive season.
“The boys love it, beyond love it,” Munroe said. “They stopped playing baseball and soccer just to concentrate on the Irish sports.”
In addition to playing games throughout the year, Saint Brendan’s teams take an annual trip to a designated state to participate in the Continental Youth Championship (CYC). The CYC is the largest Gaelic games tournament held outside of Ireland.
Next summer, Massachusetts will host the CYC at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton. Up to 2,500 participants are expected to compete in hundreds of Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie games over the course of the four-day tournament.
Munroe is helping to fundraise to make sure all teams are equipped to attend the tournament. “There’s a huge community now,” Munroe said. “I’ve met so many people that I never would have met otherwise. We’re like family.”