Recent features here on SportsNewsIreland regarding young Irish players emigrating to Australia, Britain and United States are borne out with today’s news from Perth’s “The Western Australian” that “more than 80 Irish expatriates turn up to a suburban oval every week to train for their Gaelic football club as a new wave of Irish immigrants descends on WA.
The Western Shamrocks numbers have jumped dramatically as a depressed Irish economy has led to an exodus of people seeking work.
The Irish unemployment rate, reports the newspaper, is expected to hit 13.5 per cent this year and though the economy is predicted to grow for the first time in three years, Irish emigration levels are forecast to eclipse the highs of the 1980s.
About 50,000 are expected to leave this year, many bound for WA.
Section 457 temporary work visas granted to Irish applicants nationally in the seven months to January 31 jumped 65 per cent to 2050 on the same period last year. More than 400 were for work in WA.
The increase is not just plugging gaps in WA’s economy, it is creating an Irish expatriate community.
Former County Derry player Gavin Donaghy, 27, leads training for the Shamrocks men’s side.
Its membership has nearly trebled in five years and about 12 colleagues from his Belfast university are in Australia out of a class of 50 and friends often contact him about getting work in Australia.
Maxi McDonald is from Kilkenny and within days of landing in WA five years ago he got involved with the club.
“In the past two years we have had almost 50 people training where we used to have 15,” he said.
McDonald, from Kilmacow, is one of the team’s key players and organisers – hardly surprisingly he ranks D.J./Carey as his favourite ‘all time’ legend. Shamrocks, who won the League last year are currently in training for the new campaign whilst they also boast a fine women’s team.
Another key player is Cork born, Moss O’Connor though the 29 years old was raised in Dromid, Co Kerry and is an avid Kerry supporter. Gavin Donaghy, regularly played County football for his native Derry having starred for St Columbs in Colleges football and later for his club Claudy.
Among the top lady players at the Club are ‘native’ West Australians, Louise Knitter and Erin Gray. Quite a few locals in fact are excelling at the sport, particularly among the ladies.