Matt McGuire

I first learned about the sport of hurling when I did a study abroad program in Galway over the summer of 2008. As a former lacrosse player, I was drawn to the flow of the gameplay in hurling and thought it would be fun to try. Fast forward to 2016, my wife and I attended the Colorado Irish Festival the past few years and this year I saw a hurling match taking place at the festival. This made me wonder if there was a local hurling club in Denver, so I did a quick internet search, and low and behold, I discovered the Denver Gaels. I emailed the club to get the details on how to join and received a friendly reply and invitation to join. However, I chickened out on joining that year. In the following year I found the courage to push myself out of my comfort zone and give the Denver Gaels a shot.

Funny story, I almost didn’t my first year — I drove myself all the way out to the new player clinic and waited at the field until about 10 minutes past when it was supposed to start. I just about gave up and went home; but, I did a quick drive around the park and saw that the clinic was taking place on the other end of the park! Thankfully I decided to stick with it and by that afternoon, hurling had become my new favorite sport.

How Long Have You Been a Member, And Which Sport(s) Do You Play?

The 2021 season will be the start of my fourth year with the Gaels. I’ve played two full seasons, but took last year off due to covid.

I joined the Gaels to play hurling, but there’s a chance I may give football a try one of these years. I’ve mainly played midfielder, but I think I’m better suited for half-forward. I don’t think I have the endurance to be a true midfielder…

Best Memory or Favorite Thing About the Club?

The best thing about the Denver Gaels are the people. From day one, every person, rookie or veteran, has been nothing but supportive and friendly. There are a wide range of skill levels on the field and the team is great at supporting and celebrating players, especially when they give their best effort.

 

What are You Excited About For the Upcoming Season?

For 2021 I’m just looking forward to getting back on the field and to start training. But for every new season I look forward to seeing how I can improve my play from the year before, as well as continue to build relationships and get to know all the Gaels.

Joining the Gaels and trying hurling has had an incredibly positive impact on my life. Playing with the Gaels has brought more passion to my life and drives me to improve myself, whether it be with having a healthy lifestyle, or pushing my artistic pursuits, or simply just trying new things that are out of my comfort zone. There’s nothing more refreshing or revitalizing than working your butt off in a practice or pub league game.

Kyle Dunne: An Original Denver Gaels Youth Member

As part of the Denver Gaels’ mission to spread Gaelic sports and Irish culture in Colorado, the club has a youth program to foster the USGAA (US Gaelic Athletic Association) within new generations. The Youth program started in 2004 with a brief lull starting in 2012. In the past couple of years, we have breathed new life into the youth program in an effort to share the beauty of the Gaelic games to the younger generations of Colorado.

Kyle Dunne, son of founding member Shay Dunne, was part of the early days of the youth program. He played throughout the early years of the Denver Gaels. He remains a core member of the Denver Gaels to this day.

 

What was it like growing up with the Denver Gaels Youth?

It formed a great community of close friends that I still know to this day. I grew up in a large community of Irish families and people who were all involved with the Denver Gales USGAA in one way or another. Their children and I all played on the first Denver Gales Youth team. We would travel and compete in different parts of the country every year for the National Tournament.

With so many other youth sports options in Colorado, what makes Gaelic sports unique or special?

The Irish culture and the game’s connection to their local community make hurling and (Gaelic) football unique. When I was younger, I spent time living in Ireland were I saw many communities are brought together into one big family by GAA clubs and functions. It probably helped swayed the decision that my father was one of the founding members of the Denver Gales as well. While there are many sports options in Colorado, the communal aspect and skills you can master — even at a young age — set Gaelic sports apart.

How do you think the Denver Gaels Youth shaped who you are today?

The Denver Gaels helped me in a lot of ways. For the majority of my younger life, I was part of a single parent household, but I always had a family with all the Denver Gales members. The youth program gave me mentors, coaches, and lifelong friends who I grew up playing hurling and football with — and still play with to this day.

Here you can learn more about individual members of the Denver Gaels. You can learn about what drew them to Gaelic sports, as well as any other interesting tidbits they’d like to share. Scroll through and discover something new about your fellow (or soon to be) teammates.