When Liam Hegarty passed away December 3 of last year, he left behind a treasured legacy: The Liberty Bell Tournament, drawing youth Gaelic athletes from several states to the Philadelphia area for a day of hurling, football and camogie.
When more than 700 of those athletes from Philadelphia, New York and Boston converge on the playing fields in Malvern this Saturday, they’ll be honoring his memory in more ways than one. Yes, the tournament, which started several years ago, is this year named in his memory. But it’s also a way to perpetuate an idea that was his to begin with.
“It was his brainchild,” says Aidan Corr, Delco Gaels chairperson and Philadelphia Youth Board tournament organizer. “Liam was one of the founding members of the Delco Gaels 20 years ago. His four sons played for us all the way through, from when they were able to walk. His idea for the Liberty Bell Tournament on a Philadelphia Youth Board level, not a club level, was part of an East Coast league, with Boston and New York. It was essentially to get the East Coast teams ready to play in the main tournament at the end of every year (the Continental Youth Championships).”
On a recent Saturday night, the voices of more than 60 kids, many of them 10 or younger, echoed off the roof of a huge inflatable dome on the campus of Arcadia University in Glenside. Often with more enthusiasm than skill, they grabbed, tossed and kicked a white ball into mesh goals and through uprights up and down adjoining courts, with adult coaches shouting instructions and doling out liberal doses of encouragement.
At times, it seemed like chaos, but if you looked closely and paid attention, you could see that there was an organization underlying it all.
This was Gaelic football for kids, a primer on how to one day play the game in all seriousness. Serious, because they represent the future of Gaelic athletics in the Philadelphia area—and to a larger extent, the United States.
We have nearly 60 pics from Sunday’s action at the Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association field in Limerick. Sadly, we couldn’t be there for the whole amazing afternoon at the GAA’s terrific new venue. (Just think … there’d probably be more than a milliion pics.)
In any case, we have the under-14 camogie (the ladies’ version of hurling) between the Philly Shamrocks and the St. Brigid’s team from New Yawk. (I didn’t really hear any of them talk like that.)
That particular game is noteworthy in that it was the first camogie played at the new Limerick fields. The Philly team beat the St. Brigid’s but it was not for want of trying by the New York team in the second half. Great game all-round.
St. Pat’s Donegal won the junior football finals against the Kevin Barry’s. On to Chicago and the North American finals. 6-9 to 1-7 in the St. Pat’s favor.
Tyrone fans in Philly.
More than a dozen Tyrone GAA fans, many of them Tyrone natives, dashed up the front steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, Rocky-style, last Sunday to pose for a photo to share with Tyrone fans across the world.
Their team is facing Kerry, the reigning champs, this Sunday in Croke Park in Dublin in semi-final action. The last time Tyrone made it to the All-Ireland was in 2008. This weekend, the coach who took them to victory in 2008, 2005, and, for the first time ever, in 2003, Mickey Harte, is hoping for number 4.
The reason for the photo—which was to join all the other photos from around the world—was to show support for the team which was, until this week, facing the loss of a key player. Tiernan McCann was facing an eight-week ban for allegedly overreacting to an opposing player from Kerry touching his head during a quarter final game at Croke Park. Officials said McCann “dived” when his hair was ruffled, leading sports writers to dub the incident “rufflegate.” That ban was lifted this week by the Central Hearings Committee.
Glenside Gaelic will be facing off with the Delco Gaels on Sunday.
There’s plenty of sports action at the Philadelphia’s GAA fields in Limerick this Sunday, starting at noon with under-14 camogie—the feminine version of hurling—with the Philadelphia Shamrocks vs. New York. The Shamrocks are a brand new team this year.
You can also see junior and senior championship and final games and the all important hurling final between the Allentown Hibernians and the Na Toraidhe team from Philadelphia.
The Delaware County Gaels Under 10 team will also be facing off against the Glenside Gaelic Club in football starting at 4 PM.
The fields are located in the countryside of Limerick at 484 Longview Road. The setting is beautiful and you can see the cooling towers of the Limerick nuclear plant a little more up close and personal than usual.
Get ready for some football.
It’s championship season for the Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association. Here’s the lineup for this Sunday:
1 PM, the Young Irelands face off against the Kevin Barry’s in junior championship action.
2:30 PM, the Allentown Hibernians and the Na Toraidhe hurlers tangle for the hurling championship.
At 4 there will be senior semi-final action between the Young Irelands and the Kevin Barrys.
Championship football and hurling will continue on Sunday, August starting at 1 PM at the Limerick fields at 484 Longview Road.
Hurling this weekend!
There’s GAA action in Limerick this weekend. On Sunday, the Young Irelands face off against St. Pat’s in the junior B football championship starting at 1 and in the senior championships at 2:30 PM.
The Allentown Hibernians hurlers meet the Na Toraidh hurlers from Philadelphia also at 2:30 PM.
Philly’s Kevin Barry’s will be in Pittsburgh to take on their team in a senior championship game on Saturday.
Semi-finals and finals are coming up in the following weeks. Stay tuned for times and teams.
Pittsburgh takes on the Young Irelands in Pittsburgh this weekend.
On Saturday, the Young Irelands will take on Pittsburgh for the senior championship which will take place in Pittsburgh.
So far, the football championship schedule looks like three games next weekend, August 8 and 9, with Pittsburgh facing the Kevin Barry’s in Pittsburgh, and the Young Irelands vs. the St. Patrick’s in both junior and senior action on the GAA fields in Limerick.