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My life in Australia

Dunshaughlin & Drumree player Fearghal Delaney emigrated to Australia in early 2017, we asked Fearghal to describe his life and times in Australia especially in relation to playing Hurling & Football.

My life in Australia.
It was around September of 2016 when I decided that I was going to head off to Australia, the January of the following year. This decision was not made lightly.

I felt I wanted a change from what I was doing at home in terms of work and the GAA. I had a few good friends over here and they had been telling me how the lifestyle was and that so that was a factor. I had spent 10 years playing adult football and hurling for two different clubs (Dunshaughlin and Drumree) and had sacrificed a lot, but don’t get me wrong I enjoyed every bit of it.

I felt it was a big commitment every year and some of those years unfortunately there was no reward. When I landed in Sydney in January of 2017 I wasn’t sure what to expect but thankfully I did know a few people over here. I also knew that once I joined a GAA team that it wouldn’t take me long to get know people and find my feet. The GAA is great for that when your away from home as everyone will look after everyone. I ended up joining Young Ireland’s in football and Central Coast in hurling so once again I’m playing for two different clubs. Both teams have a good few Meath lads so it was a no brainer as to who I was going to join. I remember the day I landed I walked into the Cock and Bull bar in Bondi junction which was the main Irish bar around and I was just up ordering a drink and next thing I hear from behind me “Ah Delaney what’s the crack” it was Conor O’Brien and Harry Rooney from Skryne who themselves had only been over a month before me.

They were also on the Young Irelands football team and even though we were bitter rivals at home, (I would have marked Conor a few times over the years) now we would be playing on the same team.

The season over here runs from January to September, with pre-season tournaments from January to April, league April to July and championship July and August.

One of the pre-season tournaments is the Melbourne 7s in February which is a great competition as you have teams coming from all over Australia and I have met the likes of Conor Devereux whom I played a lot with in Dunshaughlin and who is now living in Brisbane.

All the games in Sydney are played in the one venue on a Sunday so you will have a big contingent of Irish people out there for the majority of the day and it’s only a matter of time really before you start to get to know people from all the other teams.

I have to admit that I think I stood out straight away as the word on the street was, there was a girl playing men’s football, for it only to be me sporting long hair and a hairband.

When the games are finished, each team will go back to a bar that might sponsor their team and have a few drinks and more often than not people from every team would end up in the same bar by the end of the night.

I had an idea in my own head of what the standard and GAA culture would be like as I did two summers in New York playing.

I was still shocked with the standard though as it is high and very competitive but in the same sense very chilled and relaxed.

The commitment levels between here and home are completely different where at home you may be on a drink ban for large periods of time, training two nights a week and a morning at the weekend (if you don’t have a match) compared to here where there is no real drink ban but when you do get down to the business end of league and championship, you take it upon yourself to take it easy the week leading up to the match.

At home, the so called pre-planned holiday periods when no championship matches are scheduled but then are more than likely changed after a few months into the season, leading to people having to cancel plans ahead of rescheduled matches. Here the training will be twice a week with a match on the weekend and thankfully there is a schedule set out at the start of the year which outlines all the fixtures and you can easily plan around it.

Over here you have a team made up of players from every part of Ireland which I find great but you do get a massive influx of players coming and going so it can be difficult for teams really to gel together compared to at home where you have grown up playing with your teammates. You do still have a core group of players that have been around for a few years and you need that for a club to survive and operate as there is a lot of work involved in the teams over here.

Once the season is finished here there is another competition where if picked, you go to represent your state, in my case it’s New South Wales, and you go and play against the other states over here. I have been selected these past two seasons to represent NSW at this competition. The 2017 competition was on in Perth and we played Western Australia and Victoria 3 times each over 4 days and sure didn’t I only end up marking another Meath man Sean Mallon from Curragha for the whole thing who is living in Perth which just shows how small of a world it is.

It was a great competition down there as I met a good few other people that I knew from around Meath, living in Perth that were either involved in the games or out watching themselves. That year was significant also as we got to meet Michael D Higgins who flew over for the competition which was a great privilege. We ended up winning the competition which made the trip even more satisfying and I got an All- Star at the games which was a great personal achievement.

I still keep an eye on games going on around the County to see how Dunshaughlin and Drumree are doing and I would be telling a lie if I said I didn’t miss it or wasn’t homesick from time to time.

My mam Mairead, who is the current secretary of Meath GAA and has been heavily involved with the GAA over the years, has kept me up to date with everything going on around the place, which is great so I don’t miss a thing. I have been here for a while now and only been home once for a very short visit of a week for my brother’s wedding.

I probably will go home for a visit next year sometime and although that sounds like a long time away, you need to save a fair bit to go home as it’s not cheap going home and you are going to spend when you get there and a lot of the people over here wouldn’t have an income for that time they are at home.

I have been lucky enough in my time over here to have won many medals and achievements which include back to back league winners in both the football and hurling, hurling championship winner, Two Australasian football championships and an Australasian football All-Star.

At 29 now I would like to still say here, I will head back and play for Dunshaughlin and Drumree again but for the time being I will continue playing for my new adopted clubs of Young Ireland’s and Central Coast.

The photos show:
Fearghal and Sean Mallon at the Australasian state games 2017,
The Australasian State Champions 2017,
Fearghal and David Reilly (Drumree) Hurling NSW League winners 2018,
Fearghal and his mother Mairead after Dunshaughlin won Div 1 league 2015,
Bobby O’Brien (Ratoath) and Fearghal Australasian state winners 2018,
Fearghal in action for Young Ireland’s league final 2017 &
The Dunshaughlin panel 2016.

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