October 19, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Members of a local Irish sports club and elected officials cut the ribbon on Saturday to mark the opening of a new playground at College Point.
Frank Golden Park, located between 138th Street and 132nd Street, has undergone a major overhaul with much of the 11.42-acre site transformed into a dedicated Irish sports ground by the Parks Dept.
The $ 5.2 million project saw a rutted pitch in the western part of the park resurfaced and redesigned with the primary purpose of hosting Gaelic games, which consist of Irish football and hurling.
The new pitch, which is 462 feet long and 262 feet wide, will be used primarily by Irish sports club Shannon Gaels. The amateur club was formed at Sunnyside in 2002 and currently has around 420 players from U7 level to adult level.
Funding for the project came through City Council and the Office of the President of the Borough of Queens.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards praised club members Shannon Gaels who have championed the new pitch for years.
âThink about what it took to get hereâ¦ the sweat of sacrifice it took to make this happen for Queens most important gems and these are our young people,â said Richards.
“We always want our Queens County kids to have the best of the best.”
State Senator John Liu was also in attendance along with former council members Liz Crowley and Tony Avella. They all spoke at the event.
The parks department laid a new grass area and installed goal posts, nets, a scoreboard and concrete stadium seats.
A green space behind the stadium seats – adjacent to Route 14 – has also been redeveloped with new benches, lights, asphalt pavement and an accessible ramp to the pitch. New trees were also planted in the green area and around the new field.
The new land is maintained by the Shannon Gaels club which leases it from the city, according to Robert McDonagh, president of Shannon Gaels.
McDonagh said the club is looking to attract children from all walks of life to Queens to play Gaelic games in the park.
âWe want to get as much diversity as possible,â McDonagh said. âWe are open to everyone. “
Other local sports organizations, such as football and rugby clubs, will also be allowed to use the new pitch. For example, the NYPD will face the FDNY in a rugby match on the new field on Saturday, McDonagh said.
To mark the opening, Shannon Gaels hosted a series of Gaelic Games at Frank Golden Park on Saturday and Sunday with hundreds of children from across the state.
The new pitch is a milestone for the Gaelic Games in Queens as it is the only large Irish sports ground in the borough. Gaelic games are important to Irish immigrants as they bring them together to share their history and culture.
Shannon Gaels started playing at Frank Golden Park in 2009 using a smaller existing field which is adjacent to the new field. The club reconfigured it as an Irish sports ground about three years ago – measuring 344 feet by 229 feet – at a cost of $ 2 million fully stocked by Shannon Gaels, McDonagh said.
He said the next phase of development will be to install floodlights around the new field.