Oct. 19, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Members of a local Irish sports club and elected officials cut the ribbon Saturday to mark the opening of a newly developed playing field in College Point.
Frank Golden Park, located between 138th Street and 132nd Street, has undergone a major overhaul with a large section of the 11.42-acre site transformed into a dedicated Irish sports field by the Parks Dept.
The $5.2 million project has seen a beaten-up field at the western section of the park resurfaced and redesigned for the main purpose of hosting Gaelic games, which consist of Irish football and hurling.
The new field, which is 462 feet long and 262 feet wide, will be used mostly by the Shannon Gaels Irish sports club. The amateur club was formed in Sunnyside in 2002 and currently has around 420 players from U7s up to adult level.
The funding for the project came via the City Council and the Queens Borough President’s Office.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards congratulated members of the Shannon Gaels club who have advocated for the new field for years.
“Think about what it took to get here… the sweat the sacrifice it took to make this happen for the most important jewels in Queens and that’s our young people,” Richards said.
“We always want our children of Queens County 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 Dept. has put down a new grass surface and installed goal posts, netting, a scoreboard as well as concrete stadium seating.
A green area behind the stadium seating – adjacent to 14th Road – has also been redeveloped with new benches, lights, an asphalt pavement and an accessible ramp leading to the field. New trees have also been put down in the green area and around the new field.
The new field is being maintained by the Shannon Gaels club which is leasing it from the city, according to Robert McDonagh, the chairperson of Shannon Gaels.
McDonagh said the club is looking to draw children from all backgrounds in Queens to play Gaelic Games at the park.
“We want to get as much diversity as possible,” McDonagh said. “We’re open for everybody.”
Other local sports organizations, like soccer and rugby clubs, will also be permitted to use the new field. For instance, the NYPD will face off against the FDNY in a game of rugby on the new field 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 kids from across the state taking part.
The new field is a significant milestone for Gaelic games in Queens since it is the only full-sized Irish sports field in the borough. Gaelic games are important to Irish immigrants since it brings them together to share in their history and culture.
Shannon Gaels first began playing at Frank Golden Park in 2009 using a smaller existing field that is adjacent to the new field. The club reconfigured it into an Irish sports field around three years ago – measuring 344 feet by 229 feet – at a cost of $2 million which was sourced entirely by Shannon Gaels, McDonagh said.
He said the next phase of the development will be to install floodlights around the new field.