The newly-formed Rome Gaelic Football Club has its inaugural weekly training session on 20 September, in preparation for upcoming European competitions.
The team is being sponsored by Scholar's Lounge – a large Irish pub on Rome’s Via del Plebscito – whose owner Declan Crean is the driving force behind the initiative. Crean had previously tried to establish a Gaelic team in Rome but always found difficulty locating an appropriate pitch in the soccer-mad capital (Gaelic football requires H-shaped goal posts). After being approached by Chris Taggart and Niall Boyle, two Rome-based Gaelic football players from Ireland, the opportunity to play at the Roma Rugby grounds in EUR presented itself and the three Irishmen set about putting together a team.
Crean told Wanted in Rome: "The people signing up so far come from Ireland, England and Australia and many Italians have also expressed interest in learning the game. We hope to have up to 25 people showing up in future on Thursday nights. There will also be a ladies team, with seven ladies so far signed up to train on 20 September".
The upcoming 2012/2013 Pan-Euro Gaelic football competitions include one on 13 October in Vienna and another in Maastricht in mid-November. The Rome Gaelic Football Club will be the only Italian team competing but it is not yet decided which competition it will be taking part in. Organisers hope to get a better idea after the first training session which takes place at the floodlit Roma Rugby pitch on Via delle Tre Fontane in the south of the city, at 20.00 on 20 September. Training will be held every Thursday night and there is no charge.
The fast-paced Irish national sport is played in teams of 15 and players may kick or hand-pass the ball. Anyone in Rome wishing to try it out should contact Chris Taggart on firstname.lastname@example.org, or Scholar's Lounge on email@example.com.
The new squad will congregate at Scholar's on Sunday 23 September to watch Donegal take on Mayo in the All Ireland Gaelic football final, which the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) predict will have a record number of Irish people tuning in around the world.