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.