GAELIC football is heading for a breakthrough in York, insists club chairman Alan Joyce, as the city's recently-founded team prepares for its first full season.

The York Irish Association was set up four years ago, and last year it introduced Gaelic football teams - in the form of York Gaelic Athletic Association - for both men and women.

They are thought to be the first such teams in the Minster city for 50 years.

Now both of them are ready to take on regional competition, with the men having already begun pre-season challenge matches, beating Cú Chuláinns Newcastle in their first outing this year.

They and the women’s team were due to welcome Manchester today on their home pitch at York St John University’s Haxby Road sports centre but those matches have been postponed – before going to Sheffield next Saturday.

The Pennine League season runs from March to June, with York entered in - and having high hopes of winning - division three. They will also then compete in the Yorkshire Junior League, starting in June.

York GAA club chairman Joyce believes 2018 will be a huge year for the fledgling club, saying: “I think we have expectations to grow and strengthen as a club.

“We aim to become the leading social and summertime sport for men and women to enjoy getting fit and meeting new people in a friendly inclusive environment all within a few minutes of the centre of York.”

York, who played a couple of Yorkshire Junior League opponents last year, now have the experience of former Tyrone inter-county player Steve McGerr this year as coach. He has previously led various successful Gaelic football teams in Birmingham.

Joyce added: “We’ve taken some great strides already this year with Steve McGerr being our full-time head coach bringing a wealth of experience with him.

“People are really enjoying his sessions and coming back week after week, bringing new people with them, which is great to see.

“We have a core group of 20 to 30 people who put huge effort in to making the club a success, so we really are a team both on and off the pitch.

“I think that is unique to us in terms of GAA clubs. It has a wonderful community feel, everyone is enjoying their football and doing their part for the club, which is hugely exciting.”

Training sessions take place every Saturday at noon at the Haxby Road site. Men and women of all ages and abilities are welcome to attend.

Regarded as a cross between rugby, Australian rules football and association football, Gaelic football is played by two teams of 15 players on a pitch similar to a rugby field.

Scoring a goal is worth three points, while putting the ball between the posts over the crossbar is worth one point.

The York Irish Association is a community group which aims to bring together the Irish community and anyone with an interest in Irish culture to celebrate the links between York and Ireland.

They organise events such as music nights, culture nights, Irish language lessons and the York Irish St Patrick's Festival, as well as helping to run the Gaelic football club.

For more details on how to get involved with York GAA, check out YorkGAA on Facebook and York_GAA on Twitter or phone player liaison officer Daryl Byrne on 07415 126082.