Taking the Field of Glory: GAA Monthly: Midwest Gaelic Athletic Association
By Vincent Beach
Mól an óige agus tiocfaidh sí (Bual sa tóin í agus titfidh sí). Praise the youth and they will come. The Cleveland Saints held their “big club” banquet on Saturday November 2 at the WSIA. For the first time in many years, it was a joint event for the men’s, women’s, and youth teams along with their supporters, family, and friends.
The evening was filled with good food, deoch, music, and laughter. After a nice highlight video showing the highlights, we moved into awards and recognition. Starting with the kids, over 40 youth players received their “caps” or recognition for representing the club outside of Cleveland. Several players competed very well at the Youth Championships in Philadelphia and the Midwest Championships in Akron.
The football coaches were also recognized – Dodd Bryant, Shawn Kerns, and Pat Gannon. Following the youth football, the youth hurlers presented their coach, Anthony Hanley, with a club jersey. A youth hurling coach at a Cleveland GAA event – may not have been seen since the Cleveland Kickhams Hurling Club.
For the “re-Inaugural” year for the Ladies Team, Coach Dan Murray recognized the most improved player of the year. Coach Murray was full of praise for the great year the players had given. The MIP went to, Sarah Dunn, the same player who scored the team’s first point in a full-sided game way back in June. By unanimous vote of the players, the Player of the Year trophy was hoisted by Maureen Mohney. It was great seeing Maureen back playing the Gah, and she never missed a step.
After a short speech by Coach Simon O’Doherty, he presented the Men’s Rookie of the Year jointly with Player’s Rep Kevin Defranco to Liam Chambers. Unfortunately, Liam was not able to attend, but maintains a regular training regime between studies at Xavier University. The Most Improved Player went to Charlie Kaman, whose skills rose to match his speed. The players rallied around a leader for both his offensive ability and ability to shut-down the opponent’s best player. The Player of the Year went to Dan Murray.
The final award of the night was the Club Person of the Year. It is given to someone that exemplifies the Association (GAA) in Cleveland through their altruistic volunteerism. So many, many names were brought forward after the outstanding year of event after event carried on with class.
In the end, the board recognized Dan Murray. He began the year running off-night training sessions and once he cleared his work schedule, he was full bore into both coaching the Ladies and playing for the Men. It was a tough schedule, coming from the East Side two nights a week, out of town on a Saturday, and back at Ladies training on Sunday.
It wasn’t just the hours in the car or on the pitch, Dan approached every session having spent time planning each activity – and, it was noticeable to the players and new recruits. Comhghairdes ! Congratulations to all, great year.
Before running through the various meetings that occur in October and November, a very cool story must be told. First year player Marcelina Sladewska integrated her new grá of Gaelic and Camogie into her vacation travels. As they say, you can land nearly anywhere in the world and instantly have a community of friends and support through the Gaelic Athletic Association. Marcelina confirmed just that. On her way to Nepal, she landed in Paris and got in a quick training session with the Paris Gaels GAA. From there, roundabout, she joined her next club, An Téalainn or Thailand GAA, to play in the Asian Gaelic Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Asian Games follow a pool (round-robin) format, the knockout from the top teams. Like here in the USA, levels range from Senior to Intermediate, to Junior A, B, C, and D. All codes are played, and clubs include Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Thailand, Saigon, Japan, Orang, Hanoi, Cambodia, Shenzhen, Sujing, Johor, Nanchang, Myanmar, Shunde, Taiwan, India, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City.
The game played in Asian tournaments is a bit different for reasons of climate, space, etc. The main differences are that each team has nine players on the pitch and up to three substitutes, substitutions are unlimited, the game lasts for 14 minutes (two halves of seven minutes), players can pick the ball up with their hands, no square ball rule, and all free kicks/kick-outs/kick-ins can be taken from the hands. Marcelina fared well, contributing several points and goals. The Thailand GAA fell short of qualifying for the knock-out stages behind Saigon, Orang, and Japan, but ahead of Johor-India and Cambodia. Cool trip. Slán abhaile, a Marcelina.
On October 26, the Midwest Annual General Meeting was held in Buffalo. Clubs provided reports on their year, voted on motions to amend the bylaws, and elected new officers. Attending from Cleveland were outgoing Public Relations Officer Ty McTigue, and incoming Treasurer, Sarah Dunn.
The full panel of officers: Chairperson Howard Elbert (Pittsburgh GAA), Vice-Chair Keith Knott (Akron), Secretary David Walker (Syracuse), Treasurer Sarah Dunn (Cleveland), Registrar Matt Lamot (Buffalo), Public Relations Officer Sean Stayduhar (Pittsburgh Pucas), and Youth Officer
UPCOMING. Cleveland hosts indoor sessions for both youth and adults with grants from the Global Games Development Fund made possible by the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
See our flyer above or visit our website and facebook page (clevelandgaa.com or @clevelandgaelic). Cleveland will also have its AGM on December 7.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh (thanks y’all) to our readers and supporters. Consider getting involved at any level. Fáilte (welcome) to all.
The Gaelic Athletic Association is Ireland’s largest sporting organization and a bit of home for the Irish abroad here in the US of A. Beyond sports, the Association also promotes Irish music, song and dance, and the Irish language as an integral part of its objectives. Cleveland GAA is open to all who want to play competitive sports, meet new people, and join an athletic, fitness-minded club.
Follow @ClevelandGaelic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the 2019 activities for Men, Women, and Youth. Or, visit ClevelandGAA.com.
Vocabulary: Bual sa tóin í agus titfidh sí (beat their bottoms and they will fall), deoch (drink), grá (love), comhghairdeas (congratulations), slán abhaile (safe travels home), Go raibh míle maith agaibh (thanks y’all).
*Vincent Thomas Francis Xavier Beach is a proud Greater Clevelander and emigrant of Michigan. He joined the St. Pat’s Gaelic Football Club in 1999 and, with much help, is the current caretaker of the Cleveland GAA. His Irish is a cross of dialects from the University of Cincinnati and An Cheathrú Rua.
With his wife, Michelle, he enjoys watching time absolutely fly by as their children, Ambrose (10), Bernadette (8), and Cedric (5), grow. His other hustles are teaching Irish at PJs, coaching CYO basketball at St. Mary of Berea, coaching soccer in Olmsted TWP, and slangin’ some engineering skills on local concrete and pipe projects.