Buff Egan put up a Snapchat recently showing him in a pub in Kenmare and one Irish man in London saw it.

Dan Sutton Googled the pubs in Kenmare and rang every single one of them. He was a man on a mission as he had been trying to track down Buff (the Snapchat sensation) for a while now. He tried the same trick in every bar: “Buff Egan’s car is double-parked outside and he’s going to get a ticket, is he there?” At pub number nine, Dan got him.

“Buff, I have a proposition for you,” said Dan, who hails from Moneygall. “Kilburn Gaels are in the All-Ireland intermediate club quarter-final and I want you to do commentary from it.”

As anyone who follows the renowned Snapchatter knows, Buff Egan loves a hurling match – and it doesn’t exactly have to be the All-Ireland final. He thought the proposition was “tantalising”.

Fast-forward to this weekend and Buff will be landing in London. The match takes place on 2 December and Kilburn are playing Munster intermediate champions in McGovern Park, Ruislip, which has just undergone a €5m redevelopment and is the home of London GAA.

Home from home

Kilburn Gaels GAA Club is located in northwest London, but players travel there from all over the city, in search of a piece of home.

“A lot of the lads in the club are from small villages in Ireland,” says Dan, “and London is a very overwhelming place. It’s a connection to home isn’t it? And it’s a way of meeting your own people twice a week.”

Those on the team – many of whom are farmer’s sons – have come to London for a variety of jobs. Dan Sutton himself is managing director of Montore Building Services Ltd (and also self-proclaimed MD and director of communications for Kilburn Gaels). There’s also an urban town planner, an environmental engineer, a physiotherapist, electricians, bricklayers, carpenters, quantity surveyors and mechanics. “There’s lots of building going on,” says Dan, “you’ll always find work. You’ll always get a job here doing something.”

But it’s not just Irish people who are playing hurling with Kilburn. Given the multicultural nature of the UK capital, it should come as no surprise that Kilburn has picked up some international players over the years.

“I brought a guy into the club from Denver, Colorado – he has no Irish in him whatsoever – he goes around servicing microscopes for the NHS,” says Dan. “Some Irish guy taught him how to hurl in Denver and he’s really good. He plays corner-back on the intermediate team and, being an American, he has a really great, positive attitude.”

The club doesn’t just attract international players, but international supporters too. Filipino, Romanian and Nigerian nurses recently came to a Kilburn game – and it was their first time to see a GAA match.

“They said it was the fastest, most violent game they had ever seen in their lives,” relays Dan. “They were enthralled.”

Playing GAA in another country requires a different level of commitment from all those involved.

The club spends £11,000 bringing a team and its back-room staff back to Ireland for matches. Last weekend, for example, they flew home for a practice match in Gort because the championship is over in London this year, so they have no team to play there.

Another major difference from playing GAA at home is that GAA clubs abroad don’t have their own grounds. “We train on a cricket ground and we pay a lot for it,” explains Dan. “Because we’re not in a parish, we don’t have a huge amount of money.”

How can you shoot points on a cricket field? “There’s a welder in our club and he made us goals,” explains Dan. “We have to wheel them out and in every time.”

There may be difficulties playing GAA in London when compared with home, but the UK capital isn’t all bad. Dan talks about the buzz in London, the concerts and the premiership soccer matches: “There’s so much happening here.”

But the buzz in Kilburn at the moment is around the fact that Buff Egan is en route.

“The boys can’t get over it,” says Dan. “We’re all grown men, but we all follow him – we’re all using his statements.”

Tune in to Buff Egan’s Snapchat this weekend to catch the game. CL