The Ulster Gaelic Club is one of the best-known GAA clubs in North America. It was established in 1987 and since then has grown its base rapidly to provide gaelic games for the Irish community as well as immigrants and locals interested in our games.
In 2017 All Ireland winning captains Peter Canavan and Dara Ó Cinnéide travelled to San Francisco to help celebrate 30 years and were mightily impressed with the work being done there with underage players. Since 2012 the club has enjoyed a period of success culminating in a remarkable double in 2016 with senior and junior B successes.
The club colours are Black and Amber, reflecting the colours of Ulster representing the club’s name and reflecting the founders’ interests. Along with O’Neills the club recently updated the crest to celebrate our 30th Anniversary in 2017. The red hand represents Ulster and Golden Gate Bridge represents San Francisco. The club motto is “honour, celebrate, build”.
Foundation of the UlsterGFC San Francisco Club
The Ulster Club was founded in San Francisco in 1987. Founding members included Andy McHugh, Mary McHugh, Donal Duffy, Con McCarthy, Peter O’Neill, Hugh Duggan and Pat McEnteggart.
In the club’s first year they won the St. Patrick’s Day Cup and the ’87 home base included Hugh Duggan Snr and Jr, Bingo McHugh, Jim Stewart, Donal Duffy, Donal O’Connor, Mike Woods, Danny Gallagher, Bob O’Brien and Philip McCarthy.
The club continued to prosper and win trophies throughout the 90’s including the ‘94 St. Patrick’s Day Cup and ’95 Intermediate WDB Championship titles. The ’95 home base included Barry Neeson (RIP), Kevin Barry, Mal Rogers, Eugene Daly, Paul McDonell, Eugene Cudden, Anthony McDermott, Kevin Murray, Bingo McHugh and Dermot McWilliams.
The club has always prided itself on the foundation of strong club committees as recommended under the rules of the GAA. The successes of the Nineties were due in no small part to the contribution of committee members including Emmet Minagh, Fergal Clancy, Collins' brothers, Kevin Mc Guinness, Kieran Keenan and Barry Maguire.
Building a Tradition of Success
Joe Duffy and Seamus Canning took over the club reins in 2001 and the ’01 season saw the club realizing unprecedented success at local and national level by winning the Junior A and Intermediate WDB Championships followed by victory in the NCAB Intermediate Final at the Polo Fields in San Francisco.
The ’01 teams were locally represented by Mike Collins (RIP), Terry Keenan, Aidan Leicester, Jody Ogle, Tommy Neeson, Sean O’Neill, Paul Bayly, Mark Donnelly, Fergal McMahon, Conor Hamill, Fergal Clancy and James Downes. The successful ’03 Junior A also team featured Daithi Donnelly (RIP), Niall Madden, Colm Dougherty, Declan King, Barry McShane, Bosco Hughes, Kevin Grimley and Michael Donnelly.
Through the 2000s the club continued to win at local level culminating in the 2005 NACB Senior Championship success in Philadelphia. The 2005 team was managed by Cyril Hackett, Kieran Keenan and Gerry Dougherty and captained by Ross McKenna. The home-base was represented by Darren McCauley, Michael Toner, Ted Campbell, Austin McKenna and Declan McAuley (MVP).
In 2008 the club’s NACB success continued with the Junior-A team captained by Gary Clarke and managed by Simon Maxwell winning in Boston. The 2008 home base included Hugh Breen (MVP), John Healy, Kieran O’Hare, Terry Tracey, Denver Armstrong, Sean McCann, Andrew Brennan, Meagher O’Kane, Peter Mohan and Michael McCann.
In 2009 the senior team retained the WDB senior title making it three senior titles in four years. The 2009 home base included Benny Higgins, Mike English, James Marron, Colm Tully and Neil Donnelly.
The club went two years without a senior championship win, but in 2012 the club entered unprecedented success winning 5 senior San Francisco Championships in a row, winning 3 North Americans in a row, only to lose out in 2015 North American Final to Chicago but bounced back in 2016 to again win the North American Senior Championship. 2016 was indeed a historic double, winning Senior and Junior B. The Junior B team was managed by Kevin Barry, Barry Dowds and James Fitzpatrick, with Kevin becoming an internet sensation in Seattle, coming off the bench, aged 54 and scoring 1-1.
The Club’s Hall of Fame is extremely well decorated with All-Ireland Winning Players Kevin Hughes, Stephen O’Neill, Shaun O'Neill, Barry Duffy, Pauric Duffy and Simon Maxwell, as well as household county stars including Dan Gordon, John Clarke, Brendan McVeigh, Caolan Mooney, David McKibbin, Niall Morgan, Jack Barry, Benny Heron, Keith Quinn, Sean Armstrong and Paul Hudson donning the Black and Amber over the years.