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Continental Youth Championships

Photo Essays, Photos

CYC 2019: A Look Back in Photos

The Gaelic Athletic Association’s 2019 Continental Youth Championships are over, drawing crowds of fans and players by the busloads to the Greater Chester Valley Sports Association Complex in Malvern for four days last week. Volunteers made sure everything ran smoothly for teams from throughout the country.

Not far from anyone’s mind was the late Liam Hegarty, well-known for his involvement in the Delaware County (Delco) Gaels and the GAA broadly.

Denise Foley and I attended the games on Saturday afternoon, and put together the above photo essay. It should give you a taste of what happened on the fields and off.


A Championship Weekend for the Delco Gaels

The Delco Gaels had plenty of cause for jubilation as three of their teams notched thrilling championship wins in the Continental Youth Championships this past weekend in Malvern.

In Under-16 Boys A and Under-12 Boys A, Gaels football teams emerged victorious, as did the Under-8 Boys A hurling team. At the end of the day, there were lots of medals dangling around lots of necks.

All of those championships probably took some of the sting out of a hard-fought, emotional finals loss by the Under-18 Boys B team. The Gaels were slightly younger than the winner, St. Raymond’s. Still, coach Louie Bradley expressed nothing but pride in his team.

“We had six under-18s (on the Gaels’ team), but the rest were all under-16s. We were making up the numbers,” Bradley explained. “We were never favored for that game, but they (the Gaels’ team) put up a good effort, they really did. The other team was just stronger. They were a legitimate under-18 team, and they were just stronger than us.”

Matters weren’t helped any by the fact that the team had just come back onto the field from their semi-final match after a rest of 20 minutes or so in a tent that probably did little to relieve the unrelenting heat of the day.

“We were just exhausted,” Bradley said. “We had just come off the field, having played a game, and that doesn’t help. I was glad to get to the final. Obviously, when we had gotten that far, I would love to have won it. But I’m still proud. They gave me a great effort out there.”

St. Raymond’s won it 2-11 to 1-6.

Another Gaels runner-up: The Under-14 A Ladies Camogie team.

All told, a memorable performance for a proud local club.

Another local coach had reason to be proud. Brendan Gallagher, of the brand-new Glenside Gaelic Club, clearly relished the club’s Under-8 Boys Football D fifth-place finish.

“We reached the finals in our very first year,” he said with a smile after posing for pictures with his medal-wearing youngsters. “We lost by just one point to San Diego. Not too bad, huh? It’s our first year as a club, so it’s very special, to say the least.”

We have what my partner Denise has described has “a gabillion photos” from the many weekend games. Yeah, really, that many. You can see them, above.

You can see the finals listings on the Continental Youth Championships website.


Philly’s Ready for the Continental Youth Championships

Kids getting their kicks.

Kids getting their kicks.

Philadelphia will be hosting the Gaelic Athletic Association’s Continental Youth Championships in Malvern from July 25 through 28. For such a massive undertaking—Gaelic football and hurling players from throughout the United States are taking partthere’s a national committee, of course. But when all those kids, their families and supporters start arriving this weekand certainly when play begins at the Greater Chester Valley Soccer Association fieldsthey’ll all be the guests of the Philadelphia GAA. And the Philly folks have had plenty to do to get ready.

To learn more, we checked in with local chairperson Louie Bradley.

How are things coming along?

Everything’s going pretty good. They’re delivering the goals tomorrow. We can’t put them up until Monday because the grass is getting cut again and they’re relining the fields. Tents are getting delivered Tuesday and Wednesday, the parade (down Gay Street in West Chester) is set for Wednesday night. People from the GAA in Ireland are arriving on Monday and Tuesday. All the teams start arriving on Wednesday.

It’ll be all hands on deck locally. We have a great group. The people who are involved are really dedicated.

It sounds like this is a big  job for the local GAA. How big?

It’s a lot of work when you’re trying to do your daytime job. It’s definitely a massive undertaking to get sponsors lined up, get the equipment, getting goals made up, having T-shirts made … all that. Scheduling games has been the hardest. We’re still finalizing the numbers.

What does this mean for the Philadelphia GAA? Seems like it would be a nice feather in your cap.

The first one was done really well. (The championships were last played in Philly in 2008.) That one was big. This one will be bigger. Everyone here is on the same page. There’s 2,000 kids and parents coming. Put it is way: If it goes wrong it’ll reflect on us. Were working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Do you still need help?

Every day we need 84 volunteers on the fields. (There are 12 fields.) At 8 o’clock every morning of the tournament, we need officials, like field marshals, linesmen and umpires. People who want to volunteer should go to our website.

Do you think an event like this raises public awareness of the role of young people in the GAA? It seems like, if you want Gaelic games to survive and thrive in the United States, you have to invest in young people.

It’s tough. In this country you have a lot of competition, with football, baseball, lacrosse, track, soccer and numerous other sports. Gaelic football is more of a cultural sport. It’s a coordination sport that helps you with other sports. I think it help my kids with their soccer, and it helps them with their aggressiveness as well. Obviously I’m biased, but it’s a great sport.

More details here.


GAA Kids From Around the Nation are Headed Here

2008 in West Chester

2008 in West Chester

The biggest Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) competition outside of Ireland is coming to our own back yard.

From July 25 through 28, roughly 2,000 young Gaelic football and hurling players from as far way as the West Coast will converge on the Greater Chester Valley Soccer Association fields in Malvern for the Continental Youth Championships (CYC).

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the tournament has exceeded its organizers’ wildest expectations, according to Simon Gillespie, CYC recording secretary.

“We started in 2004,” Gillespie says. “They (organizers) didn’t think it was going to survive. It started out just as a trial, with 50 teams. Now we’re at nearly 200 teams. We’re the only competition for kids 3 to 18. It really is a highlight of the year for underage GAA sports. We estimate more than 10,000 spectators will come in over the four days.”

The only GAA youth competition that compares, Gillespie notes, is the Féile Peile na nÓg, Ireland’s national festival of football for boys and girls under 14. The CYC is is unique in that it features both football and hurling.

The CYC rotates through a different host city every year. The Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association is hosting this year’s competition. It’s a really big deal.

“Last year, it (the championships) was at Gaelic Park in Chicago,” says Gillespie. “Next year, it’ll be in New York. Each area gets it every so often. It’s as big a commitment for the host committee as it is for the national committee.”

Learn more about the championship. And take a gander at our photo essay from 2008, the last time the locals hosted the CYC.