Thursday, March 2, 2017

Boston Northeast 2017 AGM

The 2017 Boston Northeast Divisional board was elected at last Sunday’s AGM at the Irish Cultural Center.  The meeting was attended by all 21 clubs from the Boston area and the wider New England region.  The meeting proceeded expeditiously with discussion around promotion, youth and games development, and of course expenses of running the games. 

Two motions passed by a show of hands.  The first was submitted by the Boston Shamrocks to ensure all championships are scheduled to conclude 2 weeks before the North American Finals to allow time for the winning clubs to organize travel and figure out covering the expenses.  It was suggested that the schedule be condensed or that championships start earlier, and the motion passed.  Galway football club put forward the other motion to pass, that a senior club’s second team no longer be required to enter the Junior A football competition.

2017 Boston Northeast Divisional Board
The election of officers went smoothly.  Two positions went to a vote.  The first was chairman with John Farrell coming in ahead of John Cunningham.  The voting slips were out again for the position of Registrar.  This time Shane McKenna polled higher than Gerard O’Kane.  The positions were filled as follows:  Chairman – John Farrell (Aidan McAnespies), Vice Chairman – Gerry Prior (Wolfe Tones), Secretary – Nessa Oates (Boston Shamrocks), Asst. Secretary – Ian “Squealer” Murphy (Wolfe Tones), Treasurer – John McDevitt (Armagh-Notre Dame), Asst. Treasurer – Peter Murray (Galway Hurling), Registrar – Shane McKenna (Aidan McAnespies), PRO – Rory O’Donnell (Connemara Gaels), Trustees – Brendan O’Donovan (Shannon Blues), Eddie Feeley (Shannon Blues), Eileen Kerins (Boston Shamrocks).  Bernie Reilly is Honorary President for 2017.
By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Boston Northeast Youth Board AGM

Boston Northeast Youth Board AGM

The Boston Northeast Youth Board AGM took place Sunday, January 29 at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton.  It was very encouraging to see all the positions on the board easily filled.  There was a lot of enthusiasm and plenty of discussion about how to move forward with competitions and transition to adult level for kids who are in the U16-U18 window, amongst other things.

Two positions even went to a vote – an unprecedented and encouraging development in the young life of the Youth Board.  Laura Corbin (ISYL) and Seamus Tobin (St. Brendan’s) each accepted the nomination for Chairperson, and Laura came out on top in the voting.  Martin Kerr (ISYL) and Peadar Nugent (St. Brendan’s) were on the ballot for Youth Officer, and Martin was voted in for the job.  Best of luck to the new board and on to a successful 2017.

The board for 2017 is:

Chairperson – Laura Corbin (ISYL)

Vice Chairperson – Mick Sammon (Trinity Milton)

Secretary – Tara Walsh (Trinity Milton)

Asst. Secretary – Liz Hunt (Trinity Milton)

Treasurer – Darren McGurran (St. Brendan’s)

Asst. Treasurer – Grainne Griffin (ISYL)

Registrar – Brendan McGrath (Trinity Milton)

PRO – Rory O’Donnell (Trinity Milton)

Youth Officer – Martin Kerr (ISYL)

Delegates:  Kevin Doherty (St. Brendan’s), Seamus Tobin (St. Brendan’s), Ellen Joyce (ISYL), Kevin Faherty (Trinity Milton).

by Rory O’Donnell

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 A year of firsts for Boston GAA

2016 will be remembered as a year of firsts in the sporting world.  The Chicago Cubs, Leicester City, and Cleveland Cavaliers were among high profile winners in the professional world, and it was no different on the local front for the Boston Northeast GAA.  The Wolfe Tones won their first ever senior football championship, and Offaly hurlers won the junior championship in their maiden season.  From a Boston and Northeast perspective there was a lot to feel good about with regard to the state of affairs, however there were warning signs as well.  Two new hurling clubs joined the ranks in Providence and the aforementioned Offaly, but there was one less club in football as Kerry pulled out this year.  At underage level there was much to feel encouraged about with a team representing Boston at the U14 Feile in Ireland for the first time in 8 years, and there were successes from the local underage clubs at the CYC in Chicago. 

Having started off on an unsteady note following the AGM in February, the season passed successfully, and without major incident, under the leadership of Joe Lydon.  Kerry, who have been in existence for over a century, were added to the list of long standing Boston clubs that have bitten the dust in recent years. There are rumors that the Kingdom may be making a comeback for 2017, and please God, we will see the green and gold back on the field at Canton.  Offaly and Providence were added to the ranks of hurling clubs, bringing the total to 10 – outnumbering the men’s football clubs by one, with 9 playing football.  Indicative of how Americans are embracing the ancient game of CuChulainn, there are now 5 junior B and C hurling clubs representing all but one New England state – a club in Vermont would mean representation in each state in the region. 

Offaly hurlers won the junior championship on the first try.
There were firsts for the Wolfe Tones footballers and the Offaly hurlers.  In their third successive final, the Wolfe Tones faced a strong Galway team, a team that would have been strong enough to come out victorious in years past.  With each team coincidentally looking for their first senior championship in 27 years, the Westerners had the misfortune of taking on a Tones side that made sure that this year there would be no doubt about the outcome.  The Tones had a professionalism about them that was unparalleled and despite a gallant Galway performance, the Tones victory was comprehensive in the end.  Galway hurlers won the senior hurling, and the Boston Shamrocks their first ladies senior football championship since 2012.  The most exciting final of the weekend (from a neutral perspective) was the junior A football where Donegal defeated the Connemara Gaels by a goal.  In the much expanded junior A hurling championship, new side Offaly, made their mark straight away with a win over Galway, who themselves fielded at junior level for the first time in many years. 

Boston Shamrocks had a good year, winning a haul of 3 trophies.
A team of American Born players traveled to Philadelphia to play in an All American football competition early in the year, and were unlucky to narrowly lose out to New York in the final.

At Youth level the Boston/Northeast region sent a team of U14 boys to the Feile Competition, the first team to travel in 8 years.  The team had representatives from 5 underage clubs in the region and did well, winning 2 games and losing 1 in making the quarter finals of their section.  However a strong Hertforshire team come out on top in the quarter final following a one hour trip from Tralee to Kanturk.  The team were hosted by Ballymacelligott and the visitors could not have expected more from the local club who went well beyond the call of duty in making the American visitors feel welcome.

Boston Northeast Feile Team in Kanturk before the Quarter Final.
There was much success at the CYC for local clubs.  The competition was held in Chicago Gaelic Park, which has to easily be the largest GAA facility in North America.  For four solid days acres of sun (and rain at times) soaked fields were filled with boys and girls from all over the United States playing football and hurling.  The Irish Sports Youth League, St. Brendan’s, and Trinity Milton brought 7 national championships back to the Boston area.  The West Seneca Soccer Complex in Buffalo NY is the destination for 2017’s CYC and is eagerly anticipated by the local clubs.  (Good news for parents is that there is a Dunkin Donuts 2 minutes away from the fields – or 12 if you care to walk.)

It was a year for celebrating for the Wolfe Tones with their first senior championship.
Wolfe Tones capped off the year with a victory banquet at Florian Hall in Dorchester.  It was an emotional Gerry Prior who took the stage to address the assembled crowd with a heartfelt speech after years of disappointment.  Guests included three of the Dublin All Ireland winners – Philly McMahon, James McCarthy, and Dean Rock, Sunday Game pundit and former Derry footballer, Joe Brolly, and former Meath player, Bernard Flynn.  A great night was had by all, having the chance to rub shoulders with the visitors and listen to some very entertaining stories from their playing days recounted by Brolly and Flynn.   

A trip down memory lane:  Boston GAA Schedule for the month of May, 1973 that was published in the Boston Irish News (Courtesy of Billy Kelly).
No All-Star Game or Fenway Hurling in the Fall this year, but with changes to the registration deadline and home based requirements following the North American Board Convention, clubs will have to be on their toes to get their panels of players lined up for 2017.  AGM in February, registration deadlines in March and April, and it is on to another hot GAA summer in Boston!      

By Rory O'Donnell

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sun Aug 28 - Senior Football Final: Wolfe Tones v Galway

Galway 2-11 Wolfe Tones 3-16

Wolfe Tones made history winning their first senior football championship with a controlled, professional performance.  The Tones scored when they needed to score and slowed things down when things needed slowing.  All around the Tones did well, from corner back to corner forward, but for the second week in a row, it was Rathnew man, Leighton Glynn, whose imprint was all over the Tones performance.  The game almost resembled last week’s semi-final when the Tones put the game to bed in the latter stages of the first half.  This week, however, Galway put up a spirited second half performance and gave themselves a glimmer of hope five minutes to go, reducing the gap to five points with time left, but the Tones erased that hope with a goal in response almost right away.

Gerry Prior lifts the Pat Mulvihill Cup with Ronan O'Driscoll and Mike O'Brien.
It was a cagey enough opening period.  Galway played patient build up football, while the Tones moved in bursts of speed.  Galway edged into a one point lead after the early exchanges.  Michael Daly, Eoin Finnerty, Barrry McHugh and Kevin Cummins had a share of the spoils for the Tribesmen.  For the Tones Leighton Glynn was again instrumental, the oil that greases the machine.  Along with Paddy Keenan in midfield and Kevin O’Brien in the half backs, the Tones started to take the game over in a manner reminiscent of last week’s semi-final.

Galway had a couple of slack passes out of defence and were punished on the second one with a goal from Shea Tennyson after a back and forth with Glynn.  The Tones then proceeded to tally seven unanswered points while Galway searched for openings that did not present themselves as the Tones swarmed in defence.  A handful of chances were missed by the westerners.  Tennyson, Glynn, Keenan and Gerry Troy were on the mark for the Tones and it was a 9 point lead at the break.

Galway got the start they needed to the second half.  Quick points from Finnerty and Daly were followed by a goal from Cillian O’Sullivan.  O’ Sullivan had been well marshalled all game, but again, it was a bad pass out of the Tones defence that presented the opportunity, and the Meathman finished well.  The Tones kept their patience however and did not let the flurry of scores rattle them.  The response to the goal took the form of three points, Furlong and Keenan the scorers, and the benefit of the goal for Galway was erased.

All in as the team and supporters celebrate the first Wolfe Tones senior football victory.
The final quarter saw the Tones hold on to their 2 goal lead as the teams swapped points, but the breakthrough that had the Tones supporters preparing to celebrate the first championship in the history of the club came when substitute, Tomas O’Connor, won a ball in his corner and use his strength to beat his man and plant the ball into the far corner of the net.  Galway pushed to end and a glimmer of hope briefly opened when a Kevin Cummins goal reduced the gap to five points with five minutes to go, but true to form the Tones replied immediately with a goal from Leighton Glynn as Galway had numbers upfield.  It has been a long wait for the Tones for their first championship, but for all of their supporters in Canton on Sunday, it was well worth it!

Galway:  J. Kelly, J. Kennedy, K. McDonnell, S. Cullen, P. Naughton, C. Mannion, E. Kavanagh, E. Stritch, M. Daly, C. O’Sullivan, B. McHugh, K. Cummins, E. Finnerty.   Subs:  Subs:  J. Kehoe, J. Naughton, L. Kelly, G. McCoy, G. Lundy.

Tones:  L. Molloy, M. Grady, B. Fortune, S. Driscoll, K. O’Brien A. McDonnell, I. Whelan, P. Keenan, M. O’Brien, L. Glynn, G. Troy, S. Tennyson, S. Furling.  Subs:  R. Driscoll, J. Naughton, T. O’Connor, D. McCabe, G. Brilly.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sun Aug 28 - Senior Hurling Final: Galway v Tipperary

Tipperary 1-10 Galway 3-12

Galway dethroned Tipperary in a senior hurling final that was shaping up for a grandstand finish but just as quick, hopes for an exciting finale fizzled.  Galway held a six point lead that Tipp had reduced to four when two Tipperary players were given their marching orders for off the ball incidents.  Galway, who had the edge on their opponents to that point, now had two additional men to see them through to the finish, and it was a delighted captain, Dan Lordan who lifted the cup to start the celebrations.

Galway Senior Hurlers - 2016 Boston Champions
An early goal gave Galway first half momentum.  Paul O’Dwyer’s close range shot appeared to have been saved at first, however, the umpire signaled that the ball had crossed the line and the goal was awarded.  It was helter skelter stuff, neither side willing to give an inch.  About 15 minutes into the game a minor fracas broke out that took a few minutes to untangle, and a yellow was shown to Sean Nally – handbag stuff really.  Mark Ellis scored two mighty points for Galway, one a free from inside his own 65 and another from a sideline 45 yards out.  Galway played the ball well, 2 scores coming from patience and intelligent use of the ball. 

For Tipp Tommy Heffernan was on the mark with the frees, accounting for 3 of Tipp’s four, and with less than 10 minutes left in the period the Premier men had pulled the goal back.  It was Mark Kavanagh who finished into the far corner.  The Tribesmen restored their advantage 2 minutes later after Hugh Lawlor made a lengthy run, the Kilkenny man found Pat White who made no mistake with the goal at his mercy.  Galway’s defending was impressive with Ellis, Lawlor, and Dan Lordan denying Tipp room.  Points were added by Darragh Murray and White to put Galway into a two goal half time lead.  Galway 2-4 Tipperary 1-4.

With just over 10 minutes played in the second half Tipeprary lost the services of Barry Nash with a red card for an off the ball incident.  Cian Lynch had just taken a point off Galway’s six point lead when Nash got his marching orders.  A few minutes later another Tipperary man was shown the line, this time Andrew Ryan for a similar incident.  It was a shame as Tipp had just made it a four point game and with the final stretch of the game coming up were now down 2 players.

Galway netted a third goal, it had more than an air of good fortune.  Ellis launched a bomb into the Tipp goalmouth from distance and defenders and keeper alike left it to each other, the ball went untouched into the net.    Galway had loose men all over the field now, and each Tipp attack was met with a wall of maroon shirts as, with options reduced, each of the Premier men tried to make his own opening.  Cian Lynch pointed twice for Tipp, but Galway had Niall Mullins, White and Kenny to maintain the gap between the sides.  Galway kept their lead intact to the final whistle and it was a delighted Galway team that brought the cup back to Brighton for the celebrations.

Tipp:  J. Maher, M. Carey, C. Neville, C. Ryan, A. Ryan, S. Nally, B. Troy, C. Dempsey, B. Nash, C. Rafferty, M. Kavaangh, C. Lynch, T. Heffernan.  Subs:  E, Moriarty, P. Ryan, Jason Bergin.

Galway:  J. Loftus, D. Quirke, C. Daly, M. Ellis, H. Lawlor, D. Lordan, R. Fitzpatrick, N. Mullins, K. Kenny, P. O’Leary, D. Murray, P. O’Dwyer, P. White.  Subs:  E. Feeney, Brian McGuane, Ray Grealish, Niall Galvin. 

Referee:  Ger Hoey, Co. Clare.

By Rory O'Donnell 

Sun Aug 28 - Ladies Senior Football Final: Boston Shamrocks v Connacht Ladies

Boston Shamrocks 5-5 Connacht Ladies 1-11

Boston Shamrocks secured the Ladies senior football championship with a four goal second half salvo.  Connacht Ladies held a 2 point half time lead, but before the second half was 10 minutes old were looking at an eight point deficit.  Kelly Boyce Jordan at wing back, and Mairead O’Driscoll, and Sara Jane McDonald in the forward line, were full of running and the Shamrocks eventually broke down the Connacht defences to deliver the first title in 4 years.

Boston Shamrocks had an unbeaten season and captured all 3 trophies in 2016.
It was a hotly contested first half with Connacht Ladies not letting the Shamrocks settle into any kind of rhythm, and really held the advantage on the balance of play.  The westerners defended in numbers and when in possession attacked with speed.  Aisling Reynolds at full forward looked dangerous in the early going and opened the scoring for her side.  Shortly afterwards she set up a score for Roisin Curran.  The Shamrocks eventually started to put pressure on the Connacht Ladies goal, and Maria Bannon netted after being found by Mariead O’Driscoll with a ball across the face of goal. 

Two happy Shamrocks veterans.
The defending champions responded well however, Ruth Cox got the score right back following a sweeping downfield move.  The Shamrocks pointed three times on the trot through Rebecca Mongan, Sara Jane McDonald and Aoife Darcey, but their opponents continued to keep up the pace.  Rose Boyle and Reynolds were very involved in the forward line, however shooting let the Connacht Ladies down on a handful of occasions.  Connacht held a two point lead at the break after Reynolds and Ruth Cox pointed and must have felt confident heading into the second period.

The second half saw the Shamrocks vaunted attacking line come into its own and take advantage of the sin binning of Roisin Boyce, banging in three goals in quick succession.  Aisleen Cunningham had moved to the middle of the field and after netting a goal, was involved in another tremendous goal that was finished by O’Driscoll.  With Sara Jane McDonald and O’Driscoll running well in the forwards, and Kelly Boyce-Jordan covering ground from wing back, Leanne McCrystal finished off another move for the Shamrocks with a 3 pointer to put them into an 11 point lead. 

After Boyce reentered play, Connacht had a player advantage as Cunningham was sin binned for a high tackle.  There were 10 minutes to try and claw back the large gap.  Connacht Ladies pulled two points back through Reynolds and Jane Ward, and had a goal chance after Ailbhe Finnerty was pulled down in the box.  Reynolds tried to place the ball but it curled the wrong side of the crossbar.  The Shamrocks defence was alert to Connacht’s efforts as the westerners pushed for a goal, and saw out the game to reclaim their first title since 2012.

Shamrocks:  L. Crowley, C. McEleaney, L. Larkin, C. McCormack, K. Boyce-Jordan, M. Collins, M. Hagan, L. Kiernan, L. McCrystal, S. McDonald, A. Cunningham, R. Mongan.  Subs: S. McDonnell, B. Maguire.

Connacht:  J. McDonagh, C. Boyle, A. Egan, H. Ennis, E. Hannon, M. Peel, S. Cleary, J. Ward, R. Boyce, R. Curren, R. Boyle, A. Leahy, M. Mullen, A. Reynolds, R. Cox.  Subs: A. Kerr, M. Kelly, A Finnerty.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sun Aug 28 - Junior A Football Final: Donegal v Connemara Gaels

Donegal 2-14 Connemara Gaels 1-14

Donegal recaptured the Pat Callaghan Cup after a tremendously exciting game with the Connemara Gaels.  The Gaels got out of the gates with a fast start but as the westerners tired, and Donegal grew into the game, the northerners restored parity by half time.  Two second half goals from Christy McLaughlin opened a gap between the teams that the Gaels made a brave effort at closing with time running out, but Donegal ended with back to back points from Cian Clinton to claim the title.

Celebrations for Donegal Junior A team and young supporters!
The Gaels got off to a flying start and after 10 minutes were ahead by five points.  Damien Doolan at wing back put back to back efforts over from out on the wing, Phil O’Sullivan put two frees over, and the balance of scoring came from Kenny Gavigan and Tommy McDonagh.  The Gaels began to tire eventually, and Donegal came into the game with some well worked points, Christy McLaughlin and Cian Clinton put back to back efforts over, Karl Archbald another, and with Half time approaching Donegal had turned the tables and held a one point lead.  O’Sullivan leveled matters just before the break, but Donegal held the momentum going into the second half.

Ann Callaghan and family present the cup named after her late husband
and Donegal man, Pat Callaghan, to Donegal Captain, Declan McBride.
The second half saw the Gaels come out strong again, pointing three times on the trot.  Gavigan and O’Sullivan found the mark early.  It was then that Donegal hit back with force, following two points to reduce the gap to a single score, the Tir Chonaill men rocked the Gaels with two goals.  Twice Christy McLaughlin saw the opening and on both occasions his shot was partially blocked, but each time had enough behind it to make it over the line and into the net.  Donegal with a decided edge now.

The Gaels could not get anything going and could not mount an attack of consequence.  The Donegal backs were on top and the Donegal’s speedy forwards had the Gaels on the back foot.  The lead grew to seven after Clinton and McLaughlin pointed, but the Gaels had life left in them, even as both teams started to tire noticeably.

PJ Kelly, who entered as a sub, started the rally with a hard earned point, and after Mulgrew found Tom Sally McDonagh there was just a goal in it with the ball nestling in the corner of the net from the boot of the Leitir Mor man.  Donegal had lost Brian Kelly to knee injury and Tom Caldwell to a black card, and Gaels still had a chance.  Gavigan and O’Sullivan reduced the gap to a solitary point in injury time.  Each possession was crucial now, and it was Donegal who won the critical possessions.  Clinton pointed twice to leave the Gaels needing a goal to force extra time, but with the kickout the final whistle ended a very exciting final.

Gaels:  P. Sweeney, D. Black, F. Cassidy, D. Doolan, P. McNicholas, S. O’Reilly, J. Farragher, K. Gavigan, S. Murray, C. Mulkerrins, T. McDonagh, P. O’Sullivan, D. Mulgrew. 

Donegal:  J. Byrne, P. McNulty, D. McBride, A. Camon, M. Canney, D. Doherty, D. Kelly, B. Kelly, T. Caldwell, R. Diver, K. Archibald, C. Clinton, C. McLaughlin.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sat Aug 27 - Junior A Hurling FInal: Offaly v Galway

Offaly 2-17 Galway 0-9

The Eddie Treacy Cup went to Offaly at the first time of asking.  The faithful county men opened up a nine point lead early in the game, and by the time they settled down, Galway could not eat into the deficit.  Offaly dominated the game from start to finish and never looked in danger of relinquishing their lead.

Offaly Hurling Club celebrate the junior A championship.
Offaly held a sizeable lead at the break.  It was almost all one direction stuff, Cathal Mahon was strong in the middle of the field, and the forward line displayed a level of expertise that the Galway defenders had a hard time coping with.  Stephen Brown’s goal was a great example, just as it looked as if the first touch had let him down in front of the net, Brown adjusted accordingly and made the tap into the net look easy.

Andy McRedmond hoists the Eddie Treacy Cup.
Offaly had a built a 1-6 lead before Galway, who had lost the services of their Beagh contingent during the week, scored.  Brown, Cathal Mahon, and James Kilmartin were on the mark.  Conor O’Brien opened Galway’s account, and the latter part of the half was a more evenly contested affair.  JJ Doyle and Mark Devine brought Galway’s total to 3, while Offaly took the break with a goal and 10.

A Galway comeback looked a possibility for a time early in the second half.  Seamus Loftus and Cian Clifford did well in the back line and Galway as team looked more settled.  Also, Offaly missed a couple of chances, the type that they were hitting in the first half.  Points from Devine and JJ Doyle reduced the deficit, however, Offaly regained control before long.

James Rigney did a lot of work in his own back line, and Gary Sherlock stepped up when called upon.  A second Offaly goal was scored in unusual circumstances.  Stephen Brown’s pickup from a 21 yard free dropped to the ground, and the former Offaly county player pulled on it to drive the ball into the back of the net as the Galway defensive wall was caught off guard.  The Offaly lead of 14 points was now almost unassailable.  A faithful first in Boston, and a great maiden season for the Offaly club.

Offaly:  G. Sherlock, A. Bergin, J. Murray, T. Rigney, A. McRedmond, A. Camon, C. Mahon, R. Reynolds, M. Markham, L. Kiely, J. Rigney, J. Kilmartin, S. Brown.

Galway:  R. Grealish, M. Lennon, D. O’Leary, C. Clifford, S. Loftus, E. Daniels, B. McGuane, T. McCluster, A. Murphy, C. O’Brien, M. Devine, G. Walsh, JJ Doyle.

By Rory O'Donnell