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Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association

Photo Essays, Photos, Sports

Sunday Afternoon GAA Action

You couldn’t have asked for a better day for Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association action.

Sunday, in the shadow of the Limerick cooling towers, with bright sun, a gentle breeze and temperatures in the mid-80s, eight teams went at it for guts and glory in football and hurling. The crowd along the sidelines was big and enthusiastic.

We were there for a few of the games and shot a ton of photos. We also have scores:

In hurling, it was Allentown 5-22 over Philly’s NaToraidhe 3-14, and Jersey Shore 4-07 over the South Jersey Rebels 4-06—an exciting, hard-fought matchup.

In the junior football finals, it was Donegal 3-16 over the Delco Gaels 1-12. And in the senior finals, the Young Irelands topped Donegal 3-18 to 2-16.

Check out the pics!


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


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

Hawks take charge

Hawks Gaelic Footballers Sink Their Talons into Boston College

(Photos by Gwyneth MacArthur)

(Photos by Gwyneth MacArthur)

Until recently, they seemed to be the Philadelphia-area Gaelic football club nobody had heard of. Except, possibly, for some local Gaelic footballers.

In any case, the St. Joe Hawks made a great impression on a crowd of Gaelic Athletic Association fans in a special game at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Montgomery County. They notched a tight victory over a team from Boston College, 5-12 to 5-8.

With the victory, St. Joe’s earned the Daniel Sweeney Cup, honoring the Philadelphia firefighter of that name who died in the line of duty in April, 2012.

(Gaelic football explainer here, including scoring.)

The Hawk will never die.

The game was the centerpiece of a day dedicated to raising local awareness of Gaelic sports, sponsored by the Glenside Gaelic Club. Glenside is building a youth program, and showing early signs of success. Some of the kids showed their stuff at the half.

Our roving photographer Gwyneth MacArthur was there to record all the action. Check out her photo essay.

The Hawks in action

St. Joe Squares Off Against B.C. in a Saturday Gaelic Football Match

The gang from Glenside

The gang from Glenside

Gaelic athletics are well-established in the Philadelphia area and, at least among the fans who follow the local hurling and Gaelic football teams, everyone knows who plays these freewheeling, uniquely Irish games.

Brendan Gallagher of the Glenside Gaelic Club thought he knew all the teams.

Turned out he didn’t. The Hawks of St. Joe’s fields a Gaelic football team, and you’ll get to see them in action in a game against a team from Boston College Saturday at 3 p.m. at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Montgomery County.

The team at St. Joe’s, Gallagher said, had already been planning a small exhibition game, “but it was going to be a much smaller event.”

The creative geniuses at the nascent Glenside club had a better idea.

“We saw it as an event of much larger significance,” Gallagher explained. “They saw it as a huge step for their club. I saw it as something bigger. I saw it as a huge step for Gaelic sports in the region.

“Ciaran Porter is the local GAA development officer and a paid employee of the GAA, and his job is to develop Gaelic sports in this region. He was the main force between us getting this event up and running. He has been holding development meetings, and asking people to come from different clubs. It was at one of those meetings at St. Joe’s that I met these young guys. I understood the significance.”

Glenside saw the game as an opportunity to bring out all the GAA fans—plus folks who have never witnessed a Gaelic athletic game of any kind. So the Glenside club is sponsoring the event, and it will now be a much bigger deal.

“At halftime, we’ll have a seven-a-side tiny tots game,” Gallagher said. “Were hoping to line up kids from the Delco Gaels to play against our kids. If not, we will have an intramural game. We see that as a marketing tool for ourselves.”

Afterward, from 6 to 8 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on nearby Limekiln Pike, the Glenside club will serve food and drink. Everyone is invited. It’s five bucks to get in. For newbies and their parents, the Glenside club will explain the basics of the game—and take the opportunity to recruit, of course.

In the meantime, Gallagher is gratified to learn of the Hawks club, and sees it as a positive sign for the growth and development of GAA sports here in Philly, and throughout the United States.

“This is their third year,” Gallagher said. “Ultimately, just like lacrosse and rugby, we’d like the games played at local universities, so students could be enticed to play into their 20s.”


On to the North American Finals!

Up in the air

Up in the air

It might be the first time I’ve heard anyone so excited about a trip to Cleveland.

But there they were, a disorderly pile of screaming, red-shirted Young Irelands stacked up at midfield, celebrating a shocking Division 1 football win on Sunday over the previously dominating Donegal St. Patricks. The Young Irelands earned the win by a razor-thin margin, 1-13 to 2-9. At the half, the St. Patricks enjoyed a 2-4 to 0-5 lead and seemed to be coasting, continuing to rack up points in the second half. But the Young Irelands chipped away at that lead, sealing the deal with a goal and a point in the final minutes, to exultant cheers from fans on the sidelines.

The win earned the Young Irelands a trip to the North American GAA Finals over the labor day weekend.

In an earlier Junior B matchup, the St. Pats notched a win over the Kevin Barrys, 4-13 to 1-6.

And in the first game of the afternoon, Philly’s Na Toraidhe hurling club won handily over a hard-working team from Allentown. The guys from the Lehigh Valley fought all the way, and never gave up. But in the end, Na Toraidhe’s Kieran Donahue said, superior conditioning won the day.

“Our fitness level wasn’t where it needed to be (last year),” Donahue said. But this year, he added, conditioning was a priority, and it showed as the game progressed. “In the second half, that’s where our fitness level really paid off.”

We have tons of photos. You can see the Young Irelands-St. Pats photo essay up top.

Here are the two others:

St. Pats-Kevin Barrys
Na Toraidhe-Allentown


Two Rollicking GAA Games at Dougherty

gaa20130811homeIn a hard-fought game at Cardinal Dougherty High School field on Sunday, the Young Irelands emerged victorious over the Kevin Barrys in the Junior B Semi Final. The final score was Young Irelands 3-10 to the Barrys 1-11.

It was an emotional match, handily illustrated by a dust-up between the two teams, with a clutch of players rolling around on the ground pounding away. It was broken up by the referee after a few minutes. And then it as back to play as the two sides continued to fight the good fight—this time with a football. The Barrys struggled valiantly, but the Young Irelands pulled away for the win.

In a ladies football game earlier in the afternoon, it was the Notre Dames over the team from DC in a rout: 3-19 to 1-3.

We have tons of photos of the day’s action. The Young Irelands/Kevin Barrys set is above.



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.