The History of London GAA

A proud look back over the years that saw the birth of GAA in London and those who fought to build a future for the sport.




Without a doubt London's greatest contribution to the Gaelic Athletic Association was that of the Sam Maguire Senior Football Cup. It is the unmistakable name that champions roar out at Croke Park, and it was this man that was the mainstay of the GAA in London for the first twenty years of its existence.

Born in Mallabraga, County Cork in 1879, he came to London with his brothers in 1899 and took a huge interest in the infant GAA scene here. Sam found a job in the Post Office and Played for the Hibernian football club, captaining them to four consecutive London Championships (1901-1904).

Better still, Sam led the Senior London County panel to the All- Ireland finals from 1900 to 1903. His sheer leadership qualities and amazing determination for the success of London GAA earned him the respect of every player in London. In 1907 he was elected chairman of the London County Board.

While in the Gaelic League in London, Sam joined up with the I.R.B. and it was he who recruited Michael Collins into the
movement in 1909. While in the Post Office he found that he could intercept military documents that were vital to the "Irish struggle". He soon rose to the rank of Major General & Chief Intelligence officer of the IRA in Britain. His end to London GAA came in 1923 when he returned to Ireland. Sam died on the 6th Feb, 1927 at the young age of 47, but shall be forever remembered.


Liam was born in London, whose parents came from Cork & Limerick. He became the treasurer of the first London County board in 1895. His love of Hurling was well known to all and it was he who was instrumental in bringing over Munster and Leinster Hurling teams to London in 1896. In 1898 Liam became the president of the County board organising regular championship matches for London Hurling clubs. Liam MacCarthy died in 1828 and again his name will be forever remembered.



When Croke park is not available what do you do? The next best thing, the stadium of dreams, Wembley. Fr. Tom McNamara was the man who got the game to this magnificent arena. A Cork man by birth, McNamara knew that not only would this be great publicity for the game but that it would help the finances of the County Board which were at an all time low.

The first games took place on the Whit weekend of 1958 and the All-Ireland champions Kilkenny took on Clare and Galway took on Derry in the football. The crowds flocked to see their heroes and watch the masters at play. Players like Ollie Walsh, John Maher, Paddy buggy and the great Billy Dwyer were on show for the Noresiders. For the following 20 years Wembley played host to the cream of Football and Hurling stars, the Whit weekend was almost like that of All-Ireland day back home.

The Down team of the sixties used the Wembley games to their full advantage, as it was the practice run they had for their All-Ireland victory. Patsy O'Hagan became the first Irishman to score a hatrick at the stadium as Down blasted Galway off the field with a glorious display . Not forgetting the football, the likes of Cork, Kerry and the Dubs came to London and showed the capital their finest. No team came to wembley with an under strength side, they knew how much the day meant to the Irish Exiles and they
fielded their top players. In 1962 the London side defeated New York and strong team at the time, and in 1972 London defeated the All-Stars which included the greats like Billy Morgan of Cork and Brian McEniff of Donegal.Mid way into the seventies the attendance's fell and it was agreed to call it a day for the Wembley games however the memory is still carried on by the invitation of Senior Teams from Ireland to Ruislip once a year.