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.
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).”