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GAA

Sports

Liam Hegarty Liberty Bell Tournament in Pictures

A long rain delay meant a late start to last weekend’s Liam Hegarty Liberty Bell Tournament, sponsored by the Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association’s Youth Board. But a little rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds of young athletes from several states who converged on the playing fields in Malvern to face off against each other for trophies and bragging rights.

Among the winners according to local GAA and team officials:

In football, the U14 A and B Delco Gaels; the U14 Shannon Gaels; the U12 girls A, Rockland; the U10, Rangers, the U8, Glenside. In U10 camogie the honors went to the Delco Gaels. The U12 camogie trophy went to the combined Shamrocks, Glenside. Continue Reading

Sports

Tournament Honors the Legacy of Liam Hegarty

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).” Continue Reading

Sports

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.

News, People

A Fundraiser That’s a Hole in One

Joan Waychunas sets up the sign for the Team Fiona 10th Tee Fundraiser.

Last year, Philadelphia’s trophy-winning Gaelic footballers, the Mairead Farrells, brought home their second national championship in a row. But the tournament, held in San Francisco, left them in the hole.

So this year, with the Gaelic championships in Philadelphia’s Pennypack Park over the Labor Day weekend, their annual fundraising golf tournament, held on Sunday, May 20, allowed them to play a little catch-up on last year’s bills since travel expenses will be minimal this year.

It also allowed them to do a good turn for a fellow footballer.

The tenth tee at the bucolic Edgmont Country Club in Delaware County was dedicated to Team Fiona—the name chosen by the group of friends and former teammates of Fiona Kealy who are determined to raise money to help the County Down native and mother of a toddler pay for her cancer treatment.

Team Fiona, which numbers 14 so far, will be competing in the Team Livestrong Challenge Philly race on August 17-19. There’s a 5K and an 10K walk/run, along with a bike ride up to 100 miles.

“Fiona and I were teammates on the old Emerald Eagles,” said Mairead Farrell’s coach, Angela Mohan. “That was back when we won four national championships in a row. When she was diagnosed with cancer last year, we knew we had to do something.”

Several dozen golfers came out for the yearly event. At the 10th tee, they were asked to bet on whether they’d be able to put their ball into a ring set up on the faraway green. All the losses were going to Team Fiona. And some of the wins too.

Team Fiona has also scheduled a fundraiser on June 22 at Paddy Rooney’s Pub, 449 West Chester Pike, in Havertown, featuring jewelry from Newbridge Silver, an Irish company with strong ties to the Philadelphia area.

The participants in the Saturday morning “Boot Camp” run by Mohan, who is a fitness trainer, are all contributing to Team Fiona too. Last year, “Angel’s Army,” as they called themselves, used money donated via the Boot Camp to buy toys and books for children at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. “This year the money from the camp goes to Fiona,” said Mohan.

It’s only fitting, says Joan Waychunas, like Mohan, a native of Tyrone and a former footballer, who ran the 10th tee fundraiser. “If it was anybody else, Fiona would be doing the same thing,” she said.

View our photos from Sunday’s golf tournament.