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Catching Up on GAA Action

Happy time

Happy time

Two big Philly GAA football matches last Sunday down at Cardinal Dougherty.

First up, St. Pats Donegal came out and played strongly to top Tyrone 0-11 to 0-2.

The second game was closer, with the Young Irelands over the Kevin Barrys, 3-11 to 1-14. Our pal Gwyneth MacArthur, who has a real knack for capturing GAA action, was on the sidelines, and she caught all of the action, on and off the field.

If you’ve not seen Gaelic Athletic Association sports, we recommend it highly. You could watch the Phillies’ relievers squander yet another lead, or you could watch a bunch of crazy guys playing all out in a sport that makes major league baseball look like tai chi.

From the Philly GAA, here’s what’s on at Dougherty this Sunday:

  • 6/30/2013 12:00pm Division 1 St. Patrick’s v. Kevin Barry’s Tyrone (Out Of Town Ref) Pat Na Toraidhe
  • 6/30/2013 1.30pm Hurling Na Toraidhe v. Allentown Young Irelands TBD
  • 6/30/2013 3.00pm Junior B Young Ireland v. Kevin Barry’s Allentown TBD
  • 6/30/2013 4.00pm Division 1 Tyrone V. Young Irelands Kevin Barry’s (Out Of Town Ref)

We recommend that you keep up to date on the Philly GAA Facebook page.

Sports

St. Patricks Top Young Irelands in Midweek Matchup

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Closing in (photo by Gwyneth MacArthur)

As a prelude to Sunday’s long, grueling afternoon of men’s and ladies’ football, and men’s hurling, Wednesday night’s football game at Cardinal Dougherty saw the St. Patricks taking on the Young Irelands for Division 1 bragging rights.

It was a hot night to begin with, but all the action on the field was even hotter. The final score: Saint Patricks 0-13 to the Young Irelands’ 0-8.

We dispatched photographer Gwyneth MacArthur to record all the action.

If you want to see even more, head on down to Dougherty, 6401 North Second Street in East Oak Lane, on Sunday. (We’ll be there for sure.)

 

Sports

Up the Mairead Farrells

Maireads in Frisco

Sinead Fegan, Niamh McGowan, Laura McGillion, Adele Gallagher and Orla Fegan. (Photo by Peter McDermott)

It was a tougher fight this time around, but Philadelphia’s own Mairead Farrells are back from the North American Gaelic Athletic Association finals with their second-in-a-row ladies senior football championship.

The locals beat Boston’s talented Tir na nOg team 3-9 to 3-7 in the Labor Day weekend finals, having previously edged out San Francisco’s home team, the Fog City Harps, in the semi-finals.

Angela Mohan, the Mairead Farrells’ coach and manager, said she wasn’t surprised at the tight margin of success in the city by the bay. “The teams knew we ran away with it last year,” she said, “so it was very close this year.”

In the semi-finals, the outcome hinged on the outcome of a penalty shot in the final five minutes of the game. “Ciara Moore (the team captain) nailed it,” said Mohan. She converted the penalty, which helped us to go on and win that game.”

In the finals, Mohan acknowledges that the win was truly a group effort, but she credits goalkeeper Desiree DeBaldo for her fierce defense. DeBaldo is a longtime soccer player (she played for the University of Scranton), and Mohan says her mental toughness helped win the day. “She’s outstanding. I mean, everybody was outstanding, but she’s an American girl who learned the game and is very good in the net. She’s your typical soccer player who is not afraid to dive.”

Mohan says she was thinking about retiring, but she is so excited by the possibility of a hat trick that she’s going to hang around. And next year’s North American games will be fought here in Philadelphia, which would make a three-peat especially sweet.

And who knows, Mohan says. The Maireads might even go on to beat another record–that of Philadelphia’s celebrated Emerald Eagles, who won four senior titles in a row. “I played for the Emerald Eagles back then in the ’90s, and that record has never been broken,” she says. “My goal is to beat my own record. We’ll see what happens. One year at a time.”

Sports

Thunderball

thunderball

Naomh Peregrine's Stefan McKenna closes in on the Kevin Barrys' Eddie Trainor.

I’m pretty sure the Kevin Barrys squared off against the Naomh Peregrines in Sunday’s senior Irish football match at Cardinal Dougherty High School.

I’m also pretty sure the Barrys won it, 1-11 to 1-7.

Don’t hold me to it, though, because the rain was pouring down in buckets, nearly horizontal most of the time, with gusty, whistling winds. It was hard to see a lot of what was going on. For all I know, there might have been three or four neighborhood kids out on the field playing stickball.

Seriously? It was the most insane game of any sport I’ve ever attended.

The match was delayed for a time as the first in a band of driving rains, what we all hoped would be the last, passed over the Olney neighborhood. All the players sat in their cars and trucks, windshields misting over. The skies boomed and flashed. Black clouds rolled overhead like giant tumbleweeds. It was beginning to look like the all-important championship game wasn’t going to happen. And that was a big deal because the winner would be qualified to travel to San Francisco for the North American Gaelic Athletic Association finals September 2 – 4. In event of a washout, a game could be played this coming weekend, but … the closer to the date of

departure, the more expensive the tickets. Because of the cost, one wag told me it was a game no one wanted to win.

At last, the skies cleared. One optimistic Peregrine weather watcher looked up and noted that there was going to be a break in the storms.

So the game started. The ref blew the starting whistle. And then a storm of apocalyptic proportions suddenly and dramatically crashed the party. The field turned into a slippy mess, pockmarked with ankle-deep puddles. And this storm was just getting started.

Impossibly, it got worse. From time to time flashes of lightning lit up the scene like a strobe light. Thunder drowned out the calls and cheers of fans and players on the sidelines.

It was the kind of dangerous behavior they warn you about on the Weather Channel, but no one once suggested calling the game. The Barrys and the Peregrines played on.

Gaelic athletes are a reckless lot under normal circumstances, but this was a special kind of crazy, even for them.

And if you didn’t mind being the wettest and coldest you’d ever been in your life, soaked right down to your skivvies, it was a perverse kind of fun. Hard to explain when you got home—You went where??? You did what???—but a game to be remembered all the same.

Earlier in the afternoon—when the sun was still shining—the St. Patricks and Eire Og junior-C football teams went head to head in a fast-paced game. The St. Pats emerged the victors, 3-8 to 1-5. They too are qualified to compete in San Fran.

We have photos of all the action.

Sports

Stormy Weather at the Irish Football Playoffs

The clouds parted ... but not for long.

The clouds parted ... but not for long. (Photo by Gwyneth McArthur)

Stout hearts prevailed on Sunday as the Philly Gaelic Athletic Association hosted football at Cardinal Dougherty on Sunday.

Driving rains didn’t keep two teams from squaring off and somehow, amazingly, finishing on Sunday at Cardinal Dougherty field. We caught the second game, Naomh Peregrine vs. Chaoimhín de Barra. Naomh Peregrine won the day 0-11 to 0-04.

A third game never got started because the weather just made it impossible to continue.

Cruel taskmasters that we are, we dispatched our talented friend and GAA fan Gwyneth McArthur to shoot photos of whatever she could on such a dismal day. Scarf shielding her hair and plastic bag shielding her camera, Gwyneth took to it all like a duck to water.

Here are the results of her labors.

Sports

GAA Ladies Bring It On Home

Woo-hoo! The Notre Dames cheer their trophy. Photo by Eileen McElroy.

Woo-hoo! The Notre Dames cheer their trophy. Photo by Eileen McElroy.

The Mairead Farrells (Máiréad Ní Fhearghail) Ladies Football Club of  Philadelphia became the 2010 North American Senior Football Champions over Labor Day weekend at the national GAA games at Chicago’s Gaelic Park. The footballers had already won the Philadelphia senior football title a few weeks before.

The team they beat in the city match-up, the Notre Dames, also brought home a trophy from Chicago. This team is now the 2010 North American Intermediate Football Champions. They’ll both be defending their titles next year in San Francisco.

Notre Dames player Eileen McElroy is also a talented photographer and she shared some photos from the ladies’ competition and the men’s matches featuring Philly GAA teams the Kevin Barrys and the Young Irelanders. The men didn’t bring home trophies, but they fought like Celtic tigers.

Check out Eileen’s photos:

 Thanks to Peadar McDiarmada for reporting the results from Chicago.

Sports

A Labor Day of Love for the Region’s GAA Teams

The Young Irelands (in red) and the Kevin Barrys (in yellow) are piped onto Cardinal Dougherty Field for Sunday's championship. Photo by Eileen McElroy.

The Young Irelands (in red) and the Kevin Barrys (in yellow) are piped onto Cardinal Dougherty Field for Sunday's championship. Photo by Eileen McElroy.

While the rest of us are having burgers and corn on the cob and not going in the ocean (thanks, Earl) this Labor Day weekend, many of the region’s Gaelic Athletic Association players are in Chicago at Gaelic Park for the 2010 North American County Board championship playoffs.

There are 78 teams representing 22 cities—including Philadelphia and Allentown—in Chicago today (Friday, September 3) for the games, which is the biggest GAA playoff event ever in the US.

The teams from the region participating include:

  • The Philadelphia Shamrocks, Junior B Hurling
  • The Kevin Barrys, Men’s Senior Football
  • Young Irelands, Men’s Intermediate Football
  • St. Patricks, Men’s Junior A Football
  • Young Irelands, Men’s Junior B FootballSt. Patrick’s Men’s Junior C Football
  • Allentown Hibernians, Junior C Hurling
  • Mairead Farrells, Ladies Sr. Football
  • Notre Dame, Ladies Intermediate Football

Philadelphia’s teams will also participate in All-American teams in several rounds of football (including against the Chicago Fire Department team!).

Check out the action from last Sunday when the Kevin Barrys won the city championship over the Young Irelands in these photos by Eileen McElroy, who is both a talented photographer and a player (she’s with Notre Dame ladies’ football club).

Sports

Gaels Still Riding High After Their Tournament Play in Derry

The Delco Gaels at the Giant's Causeway. (Photo by Mike Boyce)

The Delco Gaels at the Giant's Causeway. (Photo by Mike Boyce)

When most people tour Ireland, they visit the crumbling castles. They sniff wildflowers in the Burren. They tap their feet to fiddle music in Doolin. They ignore all the warning signs and stand looking out over the edge of the Cliffs of Moher. They eat brown bread and butter in the morning, and drink Guinness in the evening.

And make no mistake, that’s a pretty good trip.

But becoming a part of the community, and throwing yourself heart and soul into one of Ireland’s most prized pastimes? Priceless!

That’s what the Irish football-playing boys of the Delaware County Gaels did a few weeks ago when they headed to County Derry for the Féile Peile na nÓg, a national festival of Gaelic athletics for young people.

Did they come home champs? Nah. Did they come happy? You bet, says Tom Higgins, of the Gaels organization.

“We did well. We won our group,” he says. “We were in with the host team from Derry and another team from Derry, and a team from Gloucestershire, England. We got to the semi level of our division, and we lost by a point to Kildare, in overtime. Kildare eventually got killed in the finals, and the same thing would have happened to us, anyway. We did as well as we had hoped to do.”

When the Gaels first arrived, over the July 4th weekend, they played a warmup game against the host team, St. Gall’s. “They hosted us and had a great night for us,” he says. “Then we went on to Letterkenny in Donegal for a four-team tournament. We won two out of three of those games, and then it was on to the tournament.” The team and families stayed in Letterkenny for most of their visit.

The last two nights they stayed in Ballymaguigan in Derry’s far southeast “They’re the smallest club in Ulster, maybe the smallest club in all Ireland. So an event like this might never hapopened again for them,” says Higgins. “They hosted us well and treated us great.”

Traveling to the Feile in Derry was a huge thrill for the boys, Higgins says. More than half of the kids aren’t Irish. “I’d say they were blown away by the hospitality,” he says.

Playing in Derry was also gratifying because there are so many ties between Philadelphia and the North. “A ton of people came out to see us,” Higgins says. “It was a reunion of sorts.”

For a time, Higgins says, it must have seemed to the locals like Ireland was overrun by Philadelphians. He and a group of about 30 from Philly were visiting a pub called The Cottage in Letterkenny, and a lot of them were wearing Philadelphia GAA jerseys. Higgins said he overheard a tourist comment on the jerseys and ask the bartender: Is there a Philadelphia in Ireland? Higgins says he went over and introduced himself. Turns out the tourist was from Levittown.

A little while later, another tourist came ambling in, looking for a place to hear Irish music. Higgins recognized the new visitor as Tom Johnson, someone he knew from Lafayette Hill.

“The bartender comes over to me and asks: How many people from Philadelphia are in this town?”

Ah … never enough.