Meet Laochra Aeracha, Cork's first LGBTQ+ GAA club

Laochra Aeracha is providing members of Cork's LGBTQ+ community with a safe and inclusive space to play sports.

Team photo of Laochra Aeracha, the first LGBTQ+ GAA team in Cork. The GAA players pose after a training session, with one row of people crouched at the front, and a row of people standing behind them.
Image: Laochra Aeracha

Earlier this year, Cork’s first LGBTQ+ GAA team, Laochra Aeracha, officially launched.

The club was created by Aaron Kelly and Dean Kinsella, who recognised that Munster had ticked a lot of boxes for the LGBTQ+ community in sports but had yet to explore GAA. The duo both have a background in running queer inclusive spaces in Cork, with Aaron having been involved with the Cork Hellhounds Rugby Club, and Dean having a strong background helping run Frontrunner Cork.

Speaking about the club’s foundation, Aaron explained: “I was involved in a lot of the LGBTQ sports groups in Cork since moving here four years ago. I had heard of the LGBTQ GAA team in Dublin and thought I would love to play if it ever came to Cork. An LGBTQ GAA team would be amazing.

“A few people had mentioned to me over the few years, ‘You should try and get it going, Aaron’. Well, fast forward to September last year, and I said ‘Look Aaron, just put a feeler out there’. The response was huge, and the interest was phenomenal.

“Some of the guys have played and some it’s their first time, which is a good mix. They all look out for and encourage one another.

“It’s definitely just building a panel there to get them used to the skills and bond as a group. I always throw in a few fun drills as well, and overall training definitely isn’t serious. A team needs to feel safe and have zero pressure, and it’s important to have a laugh. I have received great help from so many people in setting up the team. My aim is, come summer, play a few matches and go from there,” he said.

Dean Kinsella added, “Cork already has a very active and diverse LGBTQ+ sporting community with several other clubs already in place for many years now, which include rugby, soccer, badminton and running, to name a few. One gap that had yet to be filled was GAA sports.

“We were already very aware of the Na Gael Aeracha LGBTQ+ GAA club in Dublin, which was founded several years ago and is hugely popular and has since seen huge uptake in membership since its initiation. I was also aware that Sporting Pride Ireland had tried to get the ball rolling on founding a similar club in Cork back in 2022, but it failed to get off the ground due to lack of a local support network at the time.

“I was, of course, delighted when Aaron mentioned that he would be very keen in setting something up in Cork in Oct 2023,” Kinsella said.

“Due to our connections with other local LGBTQ+ clubs, we managed to get a group together and start trialling a few weekly training sessions to gauge interest. We were thrilled to see the positive reaction we got from everybody. Based off this, we decided to go ahead and create a club name ‘Laochra Aeracha’ meaning gay warriors/heroes, create a club crest, and set up social media to get the message out in the new year.”


Laochra Aeracha now has weekly training sessions on Wednesdays at 6:30pm in The Glenn Resource Centre, with Aaron Kelly as the lead coach and chairperson of the club. Dean Kinsella has taken on the role of social media and PR officer, and between the two, they have created a community and offered a safe space to those who may have missed out on sport in their childhood.

One of those people is Krystal Queer, who not only feels comfortable showing up to training in full drag but has also been seen performing in her GAA kit at Cork’s newest LGBTQ+ venue Vibe.

Here’s what Krystal had to say about joining Laochra Aeracha: “I played GAA briefly when I was younger but similar to many queer people, I found the high levels of testosterone and homophobia too intimidating to fully participate. I was quite feminine and that made me a target for the ‘banter’ amongst the lads.

“It felt surreal to be on a pitch and feel so welcome – all while having so much fun. If I’d felt this comfortable when I was in school I think it would have been transformative.

“I host my own drag show on Wednesday nights which unfortunately clashes with training, so I may have to rock up as my alter ego and run to the gig afterwards. I never thought I’d be playing GAA full stop let alone in drag, but I think it’d be gas and I’d feel confident enough to do it thanks to the team and Aaron. He has created something extremely special.

“The club is a way for people to be active, social and explore a new skill – all while feeling secure and having the laugh,” she shared.

Another club member, Maeve Henry, expressed: “Aaron and all the team made me feel very welcome. The training sessions are fun and the right amount of challenging. It is a very safe space, and from the moment you arrive, you know that there is no judgement and everyone is at their own level of fitness/ability.

“I’ve met some lovely people and look forward to continuing the training. I hope we can get more women and non-binary players to join in.”

Mike Conlon has also shared that a community is forming within the club even in its early days.

“Laochra Aeracha has already seen unbelievable attendances, and even within the first few weeks, we are seeing a tight-knit community of teammates forming, all while taking our eagerness to learn and improve on our Gaelic football skills. No matter who you are, you are welcome in our team.”


There had been a strong need in Cork’s LGBTQ + community to create a space like this for many years. Training with this new Cork GAA team is open to everyone and the club emphasises that they are also delighted to welcome LGBTQ+ allies.

Laochra Aeracha is open to everyone, including allies, and prides itself on being an LGBTQ+-inclusive and safe space. So much so you could show up in full drag and no one would bat an eyelash! For more info and updates on training sessions, see the club’s Instagram.

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