The Singapore Lions’ success story

When Brian Cummings arrived in Singapore there was no GAA club and now it’s the biggest in South East Asia. Michael McMullan takes a look…

THE message to Brian Cummings was simple – he wasn’t to bother turning up in Manila unless he brought a team from Singapore with him.

Cummings, a native of Tyrone, had spent time in Taiwan until Singapore came calling in the autumn of 1996.

Manila was due to host the Asian Gaelic Games and that was the target.

Cummings never forgot the gauntlet laid down and Singapore Gaelic Lions would soon be in the pipeline.

With Limerick man John Lyons, Brian Cummings and a handful of others, it was time to get to work.

It was recruitment times with flyers sent around the local Irish and English speaking bars.

Soon, they cobbled together a team and training began in earnest. Word spread and it attracted a few more souls for the Sunday morning practice sessions.

The progress has been an upward curve and with 170 members, the Lions are the largest club in Southeast Asia.

“Most of our players are Irish born that have moved abroad,” points out secretary Karen Mulligan.

“Some of whom have played in multiple countries and clubs across Asia before moving to Singapore.

“We also have a number of players from Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, America, England and Romania.”

There is a strong Ulster contingent with all nine counties represented as the club continues to thrive.

Chairperson Eimear Gunn and ladies’ captain Rebecca Murray hail from Down.

Tyrone based Anita Fox is their fitness coach with Gareth O’Brien from Cavan one of the social committee members.

The Lions are currently fielding five men’s teams, two ladies’ teams and there are underage teams.

“We play tournaments mainly in the Southeast Asia region but have also travelled to Australia for Australasia tournaments before Covid and hope to return later this year,” Mulligan points out of the club’s scope.

Their rivals have changed over the years. Traditionally, Thailand, Seoul and Hong Kong have taught them a lesson but the landscape has changed.

In recent times they’ve met Viet Celts in the finals.

In its history, the club won their first Southeast Asia title in 1998 in the Philippines.

The following year saw the first ladies team formed with a team entering the Asians Games and going all the way to the final with the men also winning their first Asian title.

The Singapore Gaelic Lions are now marking 20 years since their first ‘cubs’ youth team began.

“Over the years, the club has expanded hugely with the men’s and ladies teams winning a number of South Asia and Asian titles,” Mulligan added.

The ‘Cubs’ have grown to 60 kids training every Sunday across hurling, camogie and football.

The 2023 season was a successful one with eight teams, across all three codes, entered in the Asian Games with five having success with the lades winning the 2022 title. There was also success at the 2022 South Asia games.

Further afield, 19 players form the club took part in the World Games in Derry.

Like any club, anywhere in the world, there are obstacles.

“As Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and green spaces are hard to come by, finding suitable training facilities for the club is a huge challenge,” Mulligan said.

“The limited access means we usually need to rent space from one of the local schools, competing with many other sports to book slots,” Mulligan added, pointing how training together is key to boning the Singapore GAA community.

“The club offers our members a sense of community, both on and off the field.

“We get the chance to travel around Asia as a team throughout the year to compete in tournaments.

“Off the field, we have a vibrant and packed social calendar with monthly events including pub quizzes, club barbeques, beach days, 12 hawkers at Christmas and much more.”


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