FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s St. Patrick Gaelic Football Club will honor one of its founding members next month to start off its celebration of its 10th anniversary.
The honoree is Jude Fitzgerald, the club’s first president. Fitzgerald emigrated from Ireland in 1988, and has since been active in the town’s Gaelic American Club, serving as past president. She also will lead the club in 2013.
“Jude's passion for Gaelic sports, both football and hurling, inspired her to pass on Irish culture to the children of Fairfield,” said Jim Feeney, the club’s current president. “St. Patrick’s is a vibrant, growing organization today and we honor Jude’s commitment and determination to bring the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) to Fairfield.”
Fitzgerald helped found St. Patrick’s in 2003 as a way to get kids interested in Gaelic football. She served as president for five years after its founding.
“Of course there were many challenges and obstacles in the beginning,” Fitzgerald said in a press release. “But we all shared a common passion for Gaelic football and hurling and a strong desire to give American children the opportunity to learn, and play competitively, the same sports that we loved when growing up in Ireland.”
The sport is the most popular in Ireland but has a small following outside the island. Similar to soccer and rugby, in Gaelic football players move the ball up the field by carrying it in their hands, kicking it on the ground, or a variety of passes. The object is to either score a “point” by kicking the ball through a set of uprights over a crossbar, or a “goal,” by kicking it past a goalkeeper into a net.
St. Patrick’s currently has more than 150 members, and its teams have shown success recently. The under-8-year-old team won the National Gaelic Football Championship in Chicago this past summer. Its under-10 and adult teams also placed highly in national tournaments.
The club plans to expand again in 2013 by adding another traditional Irish sport, hurling. Coaches began training session in the ball-and-stick sport this year and hope to field competitive teams in 2013.
St. Patrick’s will honor Jude at its Dec. 15 annual Dinner Dance. For tickets or more information on joining the club, visit its website.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.