Holloway Gaels team - Finsbury Park, 1997
Holloway Gaels have been in existence since November 1993 when they were founded by two student nurses who missed playing gaelic back home and wanted to get back into the action over in London.
So Ann Dunning (Westmeath) and Joan McEvoy (Laois) badgered friends and acquaintances who they knew played the game - and even some who didn't' - to join their new team and the great adventure began. As with all teams the first year was a struggle trying to keep a team together and learning the game.
But the second and third seasons (1994 and 1995) saw things pick up on the pitch. Holloway reached the London Junior Championship under the guidance and expertise of their coaches Denis Dowling (Kildare) and Paddy Kelly (Roscommon) respectively.
The girls had high hopes for winning the junior championship in 1996, when they were once again coached by Paddy Kelly. Once again, however, it was a case of so near yet so far and the girls were defeated by London's best - Father Murphys.
1997 saw the arrival of a new coach, one 'Tosh' Kilcommons (Offaly) who brought a new level of experience. This year also saw the start of Holloway Gaels 'Aussie Invasion' a link that continues to this day. The new look team didn't gel sufficiently to bring home silverware but off the field they more than made up for that on their first end of season trip to Ireland. The crew ended up in Mullingar and as the saying goes 'the craic was 90'. The girls did manage a football match against a local team (Moate) but sore heads and hangovers won the day as the girls were defeated by a point.
Tosh stayed for another season, determined to see some silverware come to the club and the long wait finally came to an end in 1998. Holloway won the Junior Championship for the first time defeating long-term rivals Heston Alts (3-6 : 2-3) making all the hard work of the past 4 years worthwhile. They went on to represent London in the All-Ireland Junior 7-a-side in Dublin and further honour was bestowed on the team as two of the girls, Ann-Marie Dargan and Dorothy Connor were chosen to play for the London Senior Ladies team.
As any female Gaelic player knows, men may come and go but football lasts forever and so 1999 started with a new taskmaster named James Power. The team was now a force in the league in London. Training was gruelling but paid off when Holloway walked away with the British Provincial 9-a-side shield in Birmingham. They came 3rd in the senior league and were runners up in the Junior Championship, beaten by old rivals Heston Alts. For a third year, Holloway went to Ireland. They competed again in the All-Ireland 7-a-side and went to see the All-Ireland Finals at Croke Park. Holloway can boast of having 6 of the team playing for the London Junior team including Dorothy Connor (captain), Ann Dunning, Noreen Kennedy, Sinead Norris, Helena Keating and Georgia Spokes.
The year 2000 was a great year for trophies: Holloway, under the leadership of Kenny Maleady, won the Junior Championship with a convincing win over KKG, successfully defended their British Provincial 9-a-side shield in Manchester and are in the senior league final (still to be played) against Parnells!!!
Over the years there have been many changes at the club but one of the most noticeable is the interest from Australians and New Zealanders in the game. As antipodeans are by nature more sports orientated than their European counterparts, they naturally adapt to the game and take to it quite easily. Recent years have seen Holloway recruit more Australians and a few English, Scottish and Welsh girls. The club has become solid over the years both on and off the playing field due to the hard work and dedication of players and club members.
Holloway is now a well-established club in their 19th year. Since 2000, the club won a further Junior title in 2004, and consecutive titles in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, they progressed to play in the senior ranks for the first time in Holloway history. With Tosh Kilcommons now back at the helm, the future is looking bright for the Gaels!