Foundation

With an increasing number of young people from Ireland coming to Seoul in early 2002, a common topic of discussion in the bars of Itaewon was the feasibility of setting up a GAA club. With the Asian Gaelic Games set to take place in September due to the World Cup, it was decided to wait until July to get the club up and running.

In early July, 2002, a meeting was called in the 3 Alley bar, to discuss the formation of the club. Along with founder members Fionn O'Reilly and Kevin Tobin, Noel Raggett, Tom Coyner and Peter Ryan also attended. It was decided to arrange training sessions every week and see what the level of interest was in getting a team together to go to Thailand for the Asian games. Seoul Gaels was desided upon as the team's name.

A fundraising night was held in late July, and the next day the team has it's first proper training session at the Konkuk University soccer stadium. 6 people attended. From that day on, the numbers swiftly increased to between 12-15 every Saturday morning. Enough interest was shown by the players, and it was agreed that the club would go to Thailand.

O'Kim's Irish Bar agreed to provide the playing kit for the squad, and the lads quenched their thirst there every week after training. With the fitness levels and ball skills improving, confidence and morale were very high when the team jetted off to Phuket, via Bangkok, on September 27th. Kevin Tobin, after suffering a broken hand in training, managed the team. The squad was : Fionn O'Reilly (captain), John Conama, Karol Rushe, Ed Cosgrove, Tom Tennant, Tom Balfe, Kevin Hayes, Noel Raggett, Dave Griffin, Dave Hannon, Chris Cunningham and Maurice Dillon. 

The Gaels comfortably won all 4 of their Saturday games, and then defeated Japan (holders and twice champions), and Singapore (finalists every year for the past 7 years), to win the Derek Brady trophy - a replica of the Sam Maguire cup. 

On October 12th, the Irish Ambassador to South Korea, Paul Murray, hosted a victory function in honour of the team at O'Kim's bar. More than 80 people attended the reception.

On December 7th, 2002, the first AGM was held. Enough interest was shown by those present to form a ladies section to the club, and to introduce hurling to Korea for the first time. A committee was elected to run the club for the following 6 months, with Tom Coyner elected Chairman for one year. 

The committee elected was as follows:

  • Chairperson : Tom Coyner
  • Secretary : Fionn O'Reilly
  • Treasurer : Kevin Tobin
  • Women's Development Officer : Emma McPartlan
  • Committee members : Ed Cosgrove, Kevin Hayes, John Conama, Brian Kearney.

A membership drive raised funds to buy equipment from Ireland - footballs, hurleys and sliothars.

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