The grounds at the Irish Cultural Center were looking in
immaculate shape for the North American Finals over Labor Day weekend. There were three days of games, 120 teams,
and 2,500 players competing for the county finals in several grades of men’s
and ladies Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie. Senior dignitaries traveled from Ireland to
witness the largest Gaelic games event outside of Ireland, and get a first-hand
look at the main event in the calendar of the GAA in North America. President, Liam O’Neill, President elect, Aoghan
O’Fearghuil, and Camogie chairperson, Aileen Lawlor and Ladies football
president Pat Quill, were present for the three day event to witness the fruits
of the efforts of the exiles and enthusiasm and passion that the native born
Americans have for the games of the Gael.
Local teams ended up with a haul of 6 national trophies, while Ulster of
San Francisco made it three in a row in the final game on Sunday.
It was all action all the time from eight on Friday morning
till 5:30 on Sunday evening. With teams
representing all parts of the United States and Canada, as well as the Cayman
Islands, the event truly represents North American GAA. The hurling clubs of St. Louis, Milwaukee,
and Indianapolis continue to impress while the more traditional strongholds of
the GAA in North America, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, were well
represented. Of course, the Boston teams
and supporters were out in force and by the time we reached the finals day
there were still nine of the original 14 teams that entered the competition
still standing and in with a chance of a national championship.
Donegal junior Bs fell at the first hurdle to Setanta by a
goal, while the Shannon Blues were well beaten on Saturday by Washington
DC. There were two teams entered into
the Division 2 football competition, which is an Intermediate or Senior B level
championship. The first was an American
Born selection that fell to Kevin Barry’s of Philadelphia on Saturday morning,
while a team made up mostly of the Cork junior A team, along with some additions
from other clubs, were defeated by Vancouver.
Fr. Tom Burke’s let a place in the final against local rivals Galway
slip through their hands. Leading by
eleven points against Naomh Padraig of San Francisco in the second half, Tom’s
conceded 3 goals and failed to make much of an impact in the final 15 minutes
of the game. The San Franciscans
celebrated a great comeback win while Tom’s were stunned at the final whistle.
On other fronts the news was better. There would be representation in all hurling
grades. Galway came through in their
semi-final against Toronto, while Wexford beat a mostly American born
Indianapolis outfit in the junior A semi-final.
Barley House Wolves advanced to the junior B final, and Worcester earned
a crack against St. Louis in junior C.
The Tir na nOg ladies advanced with a one sided win over San Francisco,
and Boston Shamrocks defeated Pittsburgh at junior level. Eire Og made the camogie final with a good
win over Baltimore, while the Shannon Blues senior footballers eventually shook
off as stiff challenge from Chicago St. Brendan’s and Donegal beat Sons of Boru
in the junior A final to set up a Sunday with plenty of local interest
First NACB Title
The day began at the crack of dawn with Worcester taking on
St. Louis in the junior C hurling final.
Worcester captured their first North American championship with a 3-7 to
1-6 victory over St. Louis. Worcester
got off to a great start and were ahead at the half, but as the game wore on
the scores dried up for the local side.
The defence was called upon to hold the line and prevent Worcester from
denting what was a 2 goal lead over the final 10 minutes. An insurance point came from Liam Kelly. With three scores between the teams and the
anticipation mounting the final whistle was met with unbridled joy.
In junior B action, the Barley House Wolves gave it a good
rattle but ended up on the losing end to San Jose by a score of 1-13 to
2-15. It was a good tournament overall
for the BHW who fielded teams in the junior C and junior B completion, making the
semi-final in one and the final in the other.
Donegal junior A footballers were crowned junior A football
champions following an objection against Chicago’s John McBride’s. Having lost out by a score of 0-17 to 3-9 it
was ascertained that McBride’s fielded a player who was sent off in the
previous day’s senior match with St. Brendan’s.
It really should not have come to that as having led at one point by
nine points, Donegal conceded two goals and five points in the final 10 minutes.
The Chicago side netted an early goal and Donegal battled
back. Owen Grant, Pauric McLaughlin and
Christy McLaughlin pulled their side back with points, though the Mid-western
team, it must be said, were guilty of some wayward shooting. Jonathan Byrne was a busy man between the
posts for Donegal and on a couple of occasions scrambled to prevent a second
Chicago goal. With Donegal making better
use of their chances the home side went in leading by a score of 0-9 to 1-3 at
The second half saw Donegal open up the lead to nine
points. Donegal enjoyed most of the
possession with Dean Kelly and Mark Dunphy moved the ball well in the middle of
the field. Outscoring their opponents
seven points to one over the following 15 minutes Donegal looked to be
cruising. Chicago looked dangerous when
in possession however. The visiting side pulled back a goal, and following that
Byrne made two fantastic saves. The
writing was on the wall however. The
high ball into the corner forward was proving a successful tactic and a third
goal went in to reduce the gap to two points.
With Chicago winning every kickout and Donegal now struggling to win any
sort of possession three points on the trot saw the boys from the Windy City
take the cup at the death, but later news confirmed that it was Donegal
official winners following the objection.
The junior A hurlers of Wexford faced a very strong looking
Vancouver side in the junior A hurling final.
Wexford were up against it from the beginning. An early goal from the Canadians was followed
by the loss of Brian Dalton to a red card and the home team were chasing the
game the rest of the way. Wexford could
not dent the a three point differential.
Things got off to a bad start for Wexford with Brian Dalton
getting sent off for a reckless challenge.
Vancouver had got off to a great start by contrast with an early goal
from Wille Donnellan. Wexford pulled
closer thanks to some accurate free taking by Dave Power. A golden chance at a goal went awry when
Jamie Keogh’s penalty effort went wide of the posts. The Boston side did draw level, and were
fortunate to see a Vancouver goal waved off for a square ball. The Canadians finished the half the stronger
side with three points on the trot to lead 1-6 to 0-6 at the break.
Another goal early in the half by Donnellan for Vancouver
proved to keep their noses ahead throughout the second half. Wexford drew within a goal following four
points on the trot from Power frees. The
key for Vancouver was to maintain a clean sheet in the goals column and the
visiting side accomplished that part of their mission. With Peter Ryan ploughing a lonely furrow
inside the 21 the prospects for Wexford were not good. The sides traded points as Vancouver matched
some long range efforts by Wexford with some well taken efforts of their own,
but that gap could not be reduced by the home team. A deserved win for the Canadian side and captain
Tommy Burke was gracious in his victory speech after accepting the trophy from
Ladies Senior Football
Tir na nOg met Aisling Gaels of Chicago in the Ladies senior
football final and claimed the national title that they came so close to in San
Francisco two years ago. After a tight
start to the game Tir na nOg got into the rhythm that they have shown all
season and ended up comfortable winners by a score of 3-14 to 1-6.
|Lisa Brick with the Ladies Senior Football Cup|
After falling behind by two early points from the Chicago
outfit the Brighton side got the boost to put them on track with a Jenny Byrne
goal. Chicago almost made amends, but
Niamh Hynes made a superb save from a close range shot. After the visitors leveled the scores to make
it a one goal to three points game, Tir na nOg took over. With the midfield of Jane Moore and Ciara
O’Connor doing well, Shauna Jackson, Lisa Leonard and Byrne converted points
while Caroline Nee goaled after her first attempt was saved. At the break it was a 2-6 to 0-3 lead for the
Hynes was alert to dangerous ball on a couple of occasions
to make sure that a comeback would not be on the cards. The Brighton ladies picked up in the second
half where they left off the first, on top in most positions and defending in
numbers when the situation required it.
Leonard, Jackson and Byrne pointed before Nee netted her second and her
team’s third goal. With the game
entering the final quarter and Tir na nOg holding a 13 point lead it began to
look academic. Chicago continued the
battle and added a couple of points to the tally, but at that stage a minor
miracle would be needed.
Boston Shamrocks made it two for two for Boston on the
ladies football front with a close run victory over St. Mike’s of Toronto in
the junior A final. The home side came
out on the right side of a 3-13 to 2-14 final to capture the first North
American title since the seniors took the cup in Philadelphia in 2003. Leading by 10 points at the break, Toronto
stormed back into the game and drew level, forcing extra time. The Shamrocks held a two point lead till late
in the game and breathed a sigh of relief to see a last minute effort fly wide
of the posts.
|Boston Shamrocks Juniors|
In the senior camogie championship, Caroline Hanley’s last
after 16 years with the Boston outfit, Eire Og captured the cup with a 2-7 to
0-9 victory over Toronto to continue the legacy of North America’s most successful
|Eire Og with the Senior Camogie Championship Trophy|
Shannon Blues 0-9 Ulster 2-15
Shannon Blues met Ulster, the reigning champions, in the
senior football final. Ulster retained
the North American championship with room to spare, and in doing so won their
third in a row. Two first half goals set
Ulster on their way, and in the second half a loss of personnel for the Blues
due to disciplinary issues made it all the easier for the San Francisco side in
|Ulster celebrate the third NACB senior football championship|
After a two points to no score start for the Blues, life
became difficult for the Boston champions.
Liam Connerton netted for Ulster after the San Francisco team opened up
the Blues defence. Greg Loughran added a
point before Mike Brosnan pulled one back for the Blues. Ulster opened up the Blues defence on several
occasions, and at one point hit the crossbar.
The Ulstermen had to settle for points but a second goal was on the
cards and it came from Luke Kelly.
The Blues had to work hard to generate scores. Much of the ball that went in to the danger
area was dealt with by the Ulster defence.
Steven Coogan free kicks kept the Blues side of the scoreboard ticking
over. Sean Moriarty and Luke Kelly
traded points before the break to make it 2-8 to 0-6 in Ulster’s favour at the
Ulster extended their lead in the second half with a couple
of quick points from Jason Lennon and Harry Og Conlan. Things did not improve from the perspective
of the home side after Cathal Long was shown a black card for a reckless
challenge on Luke Kelly. After Daly and
Kelly added to the differential, Sean Moriarty was sent to the line. With Ulster leading by double digits and the
Blues already struggling the rest was fairly predictable. Ulster retain the national title, and for the
Blues it is still a missing place in the trophy cabinet after the fourth
Blues: C. Wallace, C.
Long, T, Wallace, D. Clifford, J. Walsh, D. McElligott, S. Moriarty, K. Byrne,
S. Kavanagh, D. Treacy, M. Brosnan, D. Wallace, S. Coogan. Ulster:
D. Devlin, G. Hannigan, C. Pike, P. Duffy, P. Bonny, D. Murphy, G.
Loughran, C. Daly, L. Kelly, A. McKenna, M. McCartan, L. Connerton, H. Conlan.
Galway 3-13 Naomh Padraig 2-11
Galway made amends for last weekend’s defeat to Fr. Tom’s
with a well earned victory in the NACB final against a game Naomh Padraig from
San Francisco. Galway led from 15
minutes in and the closest that their opponents got was 5 points in the second
half. Rory Hickey at center forward
played a great 60 minutes, while Chris Murphy won the John Hehir player of the
tournament trophy. On an additional note, American Born Dan
Swetland had a senior hurling medal to go with his junior C won earlier in the
|Galway senior hurlers NACB champions!|
Galway asserted themselves once the first half got going and
some accurate free taking by Rory Hickey, and a John Moylan goal had them eight
points to the good at the break. After
taking a five points to one lead, Galway were hit with a Robert O’Donnell
goal. O’Donnell, who played with
Tipperary in Boston last season, swung one handed to land the ball into the
corner of the Galway net. Dave Concannon
and O’Donnell followed with a point each and the westerners were level mid way
through the period. Galway then went on
a run of a goal and seven to a single point from San Francisco. With Skehill’s puckouts dropping just outside
the San Fran 21 and Hickey under them, things were going Galway’s way. Moylan’s goal came a few minutes before the
break and Galway were looking good coming into the second half.
There were two goals in it with 10 minutes to go, though the
side from the City by the Bay had come back from larger odds the previous
day. O’Donnell had got behind the Galway
defence for a second goal, and again two points followed to cut the gap by
five. Both sides worked hard, Galway to
keep the lead and Naomh Padraig to reduce it.
Chris Murphy at wing back for Galway did well, and Galway closed down
the opposing side. Moylan and Skehill
each put superb points over the bar.
Moylan’s was a sideline from 45 yards and Skehill’s a booming from
inside his own 65. With Galway leading
by nine points things started to get a little heated. JJ Doyle was shown red and Robert O’Donnell
Two late goals from pat Ahearne and Dan Wallace made sure
that Galway would be kings of North America for the first time since 2003.
Galway: J. Skehill,
P. Dowling, M. Lennon, JJ Doyle, C. Murphy, J. Kinsella, P. Holden, G. Malone,
R. Hickey, P. Ahearne, J. Moylan, T. O’Hanrahan, D. Wallace. N. Padraig:
J. Burke, C. McDonagh, D, McGreal, C. Clince, P. Moban, D. O’Connor, T.
O’Brien, M. Sheehan, J. Ryan, R. O’Donnell, D. Concannon, J. Bergin, B. Burke.