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  • Quote: ‘Talks of a GAA club being set up in Spain have been going on for 30 years. Now we have an officially registered club in O. C. Gaels. These are exciting times’ – chairman Lenny Lenihan

By Andrew Atkinson Exclusive

Gaelic football star Dublin born Gerard ‘Lenny’ Lenihan is at the forefront of inaugurating a Gaelic club in Spain.

“Talks of a GAA club being set up in Spain have been going on for the last 30 years. Now we have an officially registered club in O. C. Gaels, based in the the Alicante and Murcia region of Spain,” Lenihan, exclusively told The Leader.

Lenihan, 37, selected for Ireland in the World Championship in Australia, who won a winner’s medal after defeating Papa New Guinea in 2011, said: “We cater for players of all standards and backgrounds. We have started off with a Men’s Senior team with over 18 players registered.”

Lenihan at Kenmore Bears – a feeder club to Brisbane Lions.

Lenihan, residing in Torrevieja on the Costa Blanca south Spain, said: “We got ratified by the GAA this month and are asking everyone in the GAA community to send over what ever they can to get the club up and running.”

The Cabo Roig Inn in Orihuela, are the O. C. Gaels jersey sponsors and club house. C. Gaels secretary is Ger O’Shea, the Treasurer Brendan Gormonly, PRO David Gaffney and Lenihan chairman.

Lenihan, who grew up in Dublin and emigrated to the UK in 2002, a winner of the Leinster titles with Dublin u14s and u16s, who won a Vocational Schools title in 2000, said: “We are looking for old sets of jerseys, training equipment, portable goalposts, etc.

“These are exciting times for C. Gaels and all the help is greatly appreciated.”

Looking back on his career, Lenihan said: “I played with a very proud club in Annascaul and also West Kerry. Hurling with Ballyheigne was a great experience, I learned plenty.”

Lenihan, who played in the AFL International Cup in Australia in Melbourne and Sydney when selected for the Irish Warriors, said: “It was a dream to play and represent the four provinces of Ireland on the world stage. A huge tournament.”

Lenihan, who emigrated to Australia in 2008, when moving to Brisbane, played for AFLQ division one club Kenmore Bears – a feeder club to the Brisbane Lions – adapting to Gaelic football down under.

In 2015 Lenihan joined Odense Lions in Denmark as head coach, for both the Lions men’s team and the Lionesses women’s team.

Odense play in the Danish Australian Football League, and the women in the Women’s Nordic Australian Football League.

Married, father of two young children, aged three and 18 months, Lenihan has gained experience from around the world and played semi-professionally in Australia, having cultivated hurling in Ireland, that lead to an invitation to play Australian football.

The invitation came from the former president of Kenmore Bears, an AFL club in Brisbane.

His form in Australia lead to being in selected for Ireland’s national team in 2011.

Along with his Irish teammates, he played in the World Cup final against Papua New Guinea on the biggest stage in Australia, with capacity for 100,000 spectators at Melbourne Cricket Club.

Journeyman Lenihan, who played in Cork with Black Rock, has lived in Chile, Boston USA and China, where he was involved in the training and organisation of Australian football, said: “I am the proud father of two young children, newly born, 12 weeks old and 18 months.

“I have my hands full! And the formation and registration of the O. E. Gaels here in Spain is exciting news.”