This year’s USGAA (United States Gaelic Athletic Association) National Finals tournament was held in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend. The tournament has grown to over 100 teams in the four codes of men’s Gaelic football, women’s Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie (lady’s hurling). In recent years, games have also been scheduled on Friday to accommodate all the games. The playing grounds were actually about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, at the Greater Chester Valley Sports Complex.
The Midwest sent Pittsburgh Celtics at Men’s Junior B football, Pittsburgh Banshees at Ladies’ Junior B football, Cincinnati GAA at Men’s Junior C football, Buffalo Fenians at Men’s Junior D football, and Pittsburgh Pucas as Junior B Hurling. Each of these teams finished first in the Midwest Tournament at their grade.
Overall it was a tough weekend for our Midwest teams. The Pucas fell in their first game to the eventual national champ, Allentown (PA), by the tally of 4-2 (14) to 6-19 (37). On that same Friday, the Banshees lost out to the Seattle Gaels in a close match, 3-11 (20) to 5-7 (22). The Celtics won their Friday game against Baltimore 1-20 (23) to 1-8 (11).
With a great number of Men’s Junior C Football entrants, the USGAA decided to split the competition into two Groups. Friday games were not necessary based on the new format. Likewise, fewer teams entered the Junior D Football competition, so their games also began on Saturday.
On Saturday, Buffalo was ready to do battle with the Culver City Cougars from the Southwest Division, but the Cougars scratched for unknown reasons – it may have been their Junior B squad’s success on Friday and their next game on Saturday stealing players from the Junior D squad (players can go up in grade level (junior D to C), but cannot come back down.
This put the Fenians into the Sunday Final. Cincinnati faced eventual Group 2 champs, Atlanta Clan na nGael, and fell by the score of 3-10 (19) to 2-4 (10). Cincinnati had been leading at halftime 2-4 to 2-3, but failed to score a single point in the second half. The Celtics also tapped out of the tournament on Saturday with their loss to Philadelphia’s Donegal-St. Patrick’s by the final score of 0-13 (13) to 2-12 (18). Donegal-St. Patrick’s would go on to win the Junior B title on Sunday against Dallas Fionn mac Cumhaill.
Buffalo faced a familiar foe to the Midwest Division, the Mid-Atlantic Division’s Michael Collins out of Alexandria, VA. Michael Collins have been playing the pre-season All-American invitational held in Pittsburgh the past few years. Alas, the Fenians lost 0-6 (6) to 3-11 (20).
The other winners of the weekend: Men’s Senior Football – Philadelphia Donegal-St. Patrick’s 5-19 (34) over San Francisco’s Young Irelanders-St. Brendan’s 0-10 (10); Ladies’ Senior Football – Chicago St. Bridget’s 6-12 (30) over defending champs Charlotte James Connolly’s 5-14 (29); Senior Hurling – Boston Tipperary 3-21 (30) over Vancouver JP Ryan’s 1-19 (22); Senior Camogie – San Francisco Cu Chullainn 4-9 (21) over New York Liberty Gaels 6-2 (20); Intermediate Men’s Football – Austin Celtic Cowboys 2-11 (17) over Chicago Patriots 1-12 (15); Intermediate Ladies – Toronto St. Mike’s 2-3 (9) over Vancouver 0-8 (8), Intermediate Hurling – Vancouver JP Ryan’s 4-24 (36) over Indianapolis 2-5 (11); Intermediate Camogie – Toronto 1-12 (15) over NY Liberty Gaels 0-7 (7).
At the Junior Levels: Men’s Junior A Football – San Diego Setanta 3-19 (28) over Boston Cork 0-6 (6); Ladies Junior A Football – Charlotte James Connolly’s 4-9 (21) over Toronto St. Pat’s 0-11 (11); Junior A Hurling – San Diego St. Peter’s 5-17 (32) over San Francisco St. Joseph’s 0-11 (11), Junior Camogie – Coastal Virginia 4-5 (17) over Seattle Gaels 1-1 (4); Junior B Men’s Football – Philidelphia Donegal-St Patrick’s 2-14 (20) over Dallas Fionn mac Cumhaill 0-7 (7); Ladies Junior B Football – Austin Celtic Cowboys 1-13 (16) over Philidephia Notre Dame 2-7 (13); Hurling Junior B – Allentown 2-17 (13) over Hew Hampshire Wolves 1-8 (11); Junior C (Group 1) Men’s Football – Orange County Wild Geese 1-13 (16) over Cayman Islands 1-5 (8), Junior C (Group 2) Men’s Football – Atlanta Clan nan Gael 2-6 (12) over Delco Gaels 0-6 (6); Junior C Hurling – Coastal Virginia 7-14 (35) over Twin City Robert Emmets’ 0-8 (8).
Back in Cleveland, the GAA family enjoyed the All-Ireland Final between Dublin and Tyrone at PJ McIntyre’s. The squad also held at team meeting days before deciding to hold Saturday kick-arounds at Edgewater Park, establish a fitness program, and will enter into January’ leagues of the very, very foreign sport of association football (soccer). Also, in a unanimous decision, the club will enter into negotiations with James Finnegan, tender of ale at PJ’s, to become the official Hill 16 cheering section at all home games next season. Stay tuned to @ClevelandGaelic on FB and Twitter, and join the team to learn the game and have some craig in the off season.
Go n-éirí an t-ádh libh. Good Luck!