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Spain’s most read newspaper, Marca, usually preoccupies itself with the comings and goings of the country’s largest football clubs especially Real and Atlético Madrid.
Last week the sports newspaper devoted a double-page spread to an endeavour which in terms of scale and ethos is at the opposite end of the sporting spectrum to the giants of La Liga – Gaelic football in Galicia.
The sport only started in Spain’s westernmost province in 2010. In the space of less than a decade, 14 clubs have started up and there are now 14 male and seven female football teams.
Though Gaelic sports have taken off in many parts of the world, the Galician experience is almost unique in that the growth is indigenous and being driven by people with no connection to Ireland. Just 10 of the 300 or so players are Irish-born and some clubs have no Irish connection at all.
Galician Gaelic football association president Ángel Negrete: ‘We now have to get more players on the pitch.’
Occasional informal matches were previously played by Irish ex-pats, such as those in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day organised in the 1990s by Louth-man Dr Alfred Markey at the University of Vigo.
The boom began with hibernophile Wenceslao Garcia
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