Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On the Doorstep of another Season

Here we are on the doorstep of another GAA season, hoping to put the winter behind us and look towards spring.  Outdoor training seems a long way away as the stubborn cold is slow to give way and allow for melting on the practice fields.  Eventually the inclement weather will move aside and allow the more temperate climate of a short New England springtime to move in, clubs will move outdoors onto the grass, and the action will begin again for the Boston Northeast GAAs 16th season at the Irish Cultural Center. 

Not long now till the sun is shining and the hurls are swinging.
It will be interesting to see how 2015 shapes up with the local championships following a possible hint of a shift in the landscape last season.  The senior football championship was very tightly contested with playoff positions up for grabs until late in the summer.  The Wolfe Tones finally made the breakthrough and contested their first senior football final but fell to the Shannon Blues who captured their second championship in three years.  On the back of a strong home base of players, Kerry were a score away from pulling off an upset against Donegal and making the semis, but a last minute point saw the northerners through to the disappointment of the Kingdom. 

There was some tremendous talent and competition on display each weekend during the summer.  From my vantage point in the press box, players who stood out were the Shannon Blues James Walsh, Fr. Tom’s Zane Keenan, and Jenny Byrne of Tir na nOg.  No doubt clubs are tooling up for this season, with some titles to defend and achievements to build upon.  A development that was great to see this year was a Boston team taking on New York in November as a curtain raiser to the All Star game.  The home based players embraced the chance to represent the division and prepared well for the game.  A draw was a fair, though disappointing, result in the end as the chance to win it was there.  Hopefully this will continue and prove to be a focal point for the division to give the top home based payers a chance to play together.

Fr. Tom Burke’s won their first senior hurling championship in 10 years, defeating Galway in the final.  Visitors to Canton were treated to the skills of Keenan; the Laoisman’s talents were a wonder to behold at times.  Captained by John Moylan, it was Galway though who took the North American trophy against Naomh Padraig of San Francisco.  The Tir na nOg burst back on the scene and defeated the holders, Connacht Ladies, to reclaim the ladies senior football crown. 

Wexford proved top dogs in junior hurling, while Worcester took the junior C hurling title.  The junior hurling scene continues to grow beyond the city of Boston as Barley House Wolves in Concord NH, along with the hurlers from central Massachusetts, will be entering both junior C and junior B teams this season.  The junior hurling competition will feature Wexford and Fr. Tom’s, along with the junior B’s of Worcester and Barley House Wolves, the games against the A teams will surely help with the development of these clubs.  On the football side it was Donegal, Shannon Blues and the Boston Shamrocks taking the titles. 

The North American finals at the ICC proved to be a grand finale to the 2014 season.  The venue was looking the best that it has since opening its doors in 1999 and the local division came away with a haul of 6 North American titles.  Senior championships were captured by the Galway hurlers, Tir na Nog Ladies footballers, and Eire Og in Camogie.  Junior honours were won by the Donegal footballers, Worcester hurlers, and the Boston Shamrocks ladies footballers. 

In April and May the rust is shaken off as teams look to find out about themselves and the opposition, while June sees the beginning of the serious stuff taking us into a hot and heavy July, and before you know it, the excitement and drama of the playoffs and finals in August.  Rivalries will be renewed, stories will unfold, lifelong friendships will be made, unforgettable summers will be had, and championships will be won.  Roll on the summer!

By Rory O'Donnell

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